A good portion of Tethra’s “Empire of the Void” plays off of the sort of Death/Doom most associated with bands like My Dying Bride, Amorphis, and Insomnium. That is to say, it has a Gothic air about it, with simple heavy riffs along with melodic guitar leads, mixing in the growl of Death Metal vocals with the occasional clean harmony. This is most evident in “Gravity Pt. 3: Ultimo Baluardo”, and “A Light Year Breath” (that later of which has a bit of a Draconian vibe, thanks to a glorious guest vocal performance by Aeoneon Sorrow’s Gogo Melone).
Songs like “Cold Blue Nebula”, and closing track “Ison” have similar overtones, but have more in common with newer artists such as Aphonic Threnody, and fellow Italian doomsters, Void of Silence. In other words, there is a heaviness about the album that has less to do with “heavy” as a sound and more to do with “heaviness” as atmosphere. These songs have weight that can be felt as well as heard, and that is a wonderful thing to behold.
“Empire of the Void” is Tethra’s third full length release, and in my opinion a vast improvement over the first two (“Drown into the Sea of Life” 2013 , “Like Crows for the Earth” 2017). This is not to say Tethra’s earlier work is bad, it’s just less realized in nearly every aspect. There is a focus present, partially due to a few lineup changes (Guardian Angel – guitars, Salva Duca – bass, and Icedman – lead guitar), and higher production value due to a switch to the always reliable Black Lion Records.
“Empire of the Void” is said to focus “on the duality between what is hidden inside the depths of the human soul and the vastness of sidereal space, both empires of the void”, which suggests that Tethra is attempting to explain the unexplainable. This is always fertile ground for experimentation, which is somewhat of a rarity, as many Doom releases which tend to focus on the tangible.
Highly recommended listening, to be sure, and a band to keep an eye out for in the future. (VUK)