- Band(s): Empire Of Tharaphita
- Label(s): Out of the Dungeon
- Release Format(s): 12" vinyl, Compilation
- Release Year: 2022
- Review Date: March 18, 2023
- Author(s): VincentP
Before Mooncitadel there was Empire Of Tharaphita. From 2007 until 2014, Finnish instrumentalist and vocalist Stormheit operated under this band name, releasing two demos and a split with Drowning The Light, until in 2014 the band name was changed to Mooncitadel. The combined works of Empire Of Tharaphita were previously released on CD by Out of the Dungeon in 2018. That same label has now issued ‘Distant Echoes through Blood Infinite’ on vinyl with the addition of a bit of a rarity on side D of the vinyl. But more on that later.
On this double vinyl compilation, we find the material in reverse chronological order. That means side A starts with the most recent material, the 2009 released split with Drowning The Light titled ‘Path of the Old Lunar Cult Empire’. Those familiar with Mooncitadel’s work will find a similar style and sound, where a thick bass sound accompanies the often Heavy Metal inspired melodic guitar riffs, where reverb-laden shrieks are accompanied with occasional more Pagan clean vocals and keyboards add a symphonic element. Compared to Mooncitadel, this recording (and the entire body of work of Empire of Tharaphita for that matter) is less keyboard adorned. However, out of the releases contained on this compilation, this is probably the one side of the vinyl where they are most present, and therefore are closest to the first recordings that would surface under the banner of Mooncitadel some seven years later.
Continuing on side B is the demo ‘Dreams From the Forgotten Worlds…’ that was recorded towards the end of 2008. The production is quite the same as on the split, but musically there are slight differences. For one, the keyboards are less present and only appear in the shape of some Gregorian chant background choirs. The tracks are also slightly more uptempo and melody based, and although the Heavy Metal influences are still there, these seem a bit less obvious.
The second vinyl starts with the band’s earliest demo,’Drowned to the Streams of Eternity’, the crudest sounding recording on this compilation. Two of the tracks, ‘Beyond the Astral Seas – Kältas Ekwä’ and ‘Nightly Veils Reveal the One’ ended up in a re-recorded version on ‘Path of the Old Lunar Cult Empire’ but are here presented in a far more demo-like production where the keyboards appear absent or drowned in the mix. The material is a little bit more straightforward as a whole, which is especially noticeable in the Lo-Fi rehearsal version of ‘The Star Obsessed Spirit’, which actually does seem to contain keyboards that cannot be heard on the version on the demo. Still, Stormheit’s songwriting abilities already shine through in these earliest recordings that still bear a strong sense of resemblance with the work that he would record later.
Finally, on side D we find a rare recording that was released under the band name Watchers’ Abyss. This ‘Abyssic Towers Rising’ demo was released in 2008 and distributed in low quantities. Musically, it is a bit different from the Empire Of Tharaphita material, drawing more influence from the Hellenic Black Metal scene, with clear symphonic keyboards and Rotting Christ like guitar riffs. The production is also quite clear, though still with the typical raw Black Metal edge. The trademark adventurous bass sound and the Heavy Metal oriented riffs are very prominent however, making it possible that Mooncitadel was formed from the idea of the unison of sounds of Watchers’ Abyss and Empire Of Tharaphita.
On ‘Distant Echoes through Blood Infinite’ we find Stormheit looking for the direction that would later be taken as Mooncitadel. That comes with an at times cruder and less tight musical interpretation, but that certainly has its charm. The penchant for strong riffs and a budding symphonic sound make this Empire Of Tharaphita compilation an interesting document for fans of the sound of Mooncitadel, and in extension the Finnish Black Metal scene.
Empire Of Tharaphita
- Country: Finland
- Style: Black Metal