EMPTY TREMOR — Iridium (review)

EMPTY TREMOR — Iridium album cover Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
J-Man
What A Return!

Released over six years since their previous outing, Italy's Empty Tremor returns with what is possibly the best traditional progressive metal album to come out so far this year. Combining beautiful melodies, heavy riffing, terrific instrumental performances, and a fantastic vocalist to top it all off, you have everything that's essential for a successful modern prog metal release. From the songwriting to the technical prowess and everything in-between, I only have positive things to say about Empty Tremor's Iridium.

Empty Tremor is often lumped into the "Dream Theater clone" pile, but I actually dispute that. Although there is a strong Dream Theater influence in Empty Tremor's music, they definitely have their own sound. Although a few instrumental sections are, admittedly, not the most original thing in the world, they are highly enjoyable nonetheless. The more melodic side of Empty Tremor, in addition to the many vocal harmonies is something Dream Theater rarely does. There is also significantly less soloing on Iridium than most prog metal releases, although (as previously mentioned) there are a few long instrumental runs (that I love). Basically, if you're very strict when it comes to originality, this album may bother you. But for the average prog metal fan, Empty Tremor is the perfect balance between staying true to the genre and creating their own sound.

For an album that's almost 65 minutes long, Iridium is amazingly consistent. On a prog metal album, there are usually a few filler tracks, but every song on Iridium is extremely memorable, yet deep enough to warrant many listens. Part of this is due to the extreme variation on this album. There are the fast-paced, upbeat songs like Breaking the Mirror, there are darker songs like Run and Warm Embrace, there are the (surprisingly awesome) ballads such as Everyday, and of course you have your epic prog metal songs like the title track. The frequent tempo and mood changes keep every song interesting and captivating. These guys are clearly professional songwriters - every song is terrific from a compositional standpoint.

The musicians in Empty Tremor are a joy to listen to. There have been quite a few changes in the lineup since their previous release, but it works very well. The new singer is terrific, the new keyboard player fits the band like a glove, and the drummer is great as well. At its core, Empty Tremor is a fantastic, tight-playing unit who manages to incorporate technicality AND emotion into their music. Far too many prog metal bands are focused on shredding at the speed of light, forgetting about putting feeling into their playing. All of the musicians in Empty Tremor never lose sight of this, while still managing to show their chops. I have a lot of respect for any band that can balance this as perfectly as these guys have done.

The production is very professional and enjoyable. It has a somewhat synthetic sound that may come across as "cheesy" to some people, but I really enjoy it. I'm usually not a fan of synthetic sounding instruments, but it's used in perfect moderation on Iridium. Once again, I have to applaud Empty Tremor for getting something right that most bands fall short on.

Conclusion:

Iridium is a fantastic prog metal album by Empty Tremor, and surely among the best 2010 albums. I can't wait to hear where Empty Tremor goes in the future with this new lineup. If this album is an indication of anything, it shows we're in for a fantastic fifth album from Empty Tremor. As for now, this is one of the best prog metal albums to be released in a long time from a non-high-profile band. 4.5 stars are very well deserved here.

(Originally Posted on SeaofTranquility.org)
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