I remembered Spanish band Empty not by their name which is hardly remarkable but by the cover art to their third album The House Of Funerary Hymns which certainly caught my attention on release in 2009 with its spooky imagery and giallo like title. The album itself was pretty good too in a macabre and atmospheric way but I must have lost track with the band after that. It would seem however another writer did cover it’s follow up Etica Profana Negativa in 2014, which saw the band signed to Osmose. I’m not sure why it didn’t catch my attention but I still seem to have the MP3 files of it to refresh my memory too. It’s all been about ‘Vacio’ which cleverly means Empty too of late though and I have to say this is an album that has really got under my skin. Firstly the track titles themselves such as ‘We All Taste The Same Of The Worms. are pure poetic rottenness, reminding a bit of some of the great titles on the last Deinonychus album. Perhaps there is some insight into all of what is going on narratively as we have been informed that the album is ‘inspired by the book La Lluvia Amarilla (“The Yellow Rain”) by Julio Llamazares.’ I haven’t read this so can’t comment further than assume that it is a pretty bleak read.
Musically Empty are hugely atmospheric, the keyboards on opener ‘The Yellow Rain’ evoke sorrowful funeral despair and cast a cold pall over the listener; apparently the band had J.M. from Ataraxy collaborating with them on keys and he does a fantastic job. We clatter into blackened brackish hell with the title track Empty which is actually full of life. Things gallop along and vocalist Drizzt adds a cavalcade of personality, gasping, whispering, screeching and chanting away, the eerie synth tones and some strident guitar shredding making this a somewhat manic and schizophrenic listening experience. There’s even a touch of blackened psychedelia about it all and the dramatic flow really holds your attention. Another thing noted are the thick bass tones on songs such as ‘The Rope At The Mill’ which moves into ghostly otherworld territories before blazing away. There’s touches of everything here from Xasthur to Mortuary Drape and there is definitely a ghastly atmosphere at play making this veer into horror film territories which come more into play later. So too do certain DSBM tropes, the desolate keyboard tones on the aforementioned wormy number sparkling with a sense of abandonment before a neo-classical fugue haunts and female spoken word parts bring moribund senses to the fore. The “dark mental state” mentioned in the PR blurb is really noticeable and those beautiful keyboards repeated at end remind heavily of Lifelover and Vanhelga. ‘The night remains for who is’ has bite with necrotic bloodthirsty hunger about it, the band can certainly both go for the throat and coat things with an undead and cadaverous sense of horror, the keyboard weave here is beautiful as the song slows down and is really reminiscent of the sort of foulness evoked by Fabio Frizzi on his work with Lucio Fulci. It’s my favourite part of the album and the track is excellent, it even fits in some Spanish sounding flamenco guitar work.
So many shiver down the spine moments are contained here, the odd ‘The pilgrim of desolation’ has acoustic parts, babbling oddly intoned spoken word parts, sinister whispers and evokes a huge sense of sorrow and loss. The fact that some manic strings are added as the song bounds into life before conclusion just adds to the unexpected “anything can happen here” stance of the band. They also seep into the albums closer, the 10 minute epic and strangely entitled ‘Filandom under the sign of misfortune’ which is packed with enchantment and real sense of adventure which really makes me want to track down the book this took inspiration from if it’s a page turn akin to the music here it has to be read. My download and the vinyl come with the added bonus of an Arcana cover, ‘Lovelorn’ from ‘Inner Pale Sun.’ I’m certainly glad I didn’t accidently overlook this ever interesting album.
(8/10 Pete Woods)