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Empty Tremor: Iridium

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.


Track Listing
1. Breaking the Mirror
2. Run
3. Warm Embrace
4. Autumn Leaves
5. Friends In Progression
6. Unconditional Love
7. Everyday
8. The Last Day on Earth
9. Iridium

Added: September 30th 2010
Reviewer: Jeff B
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2743
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Empty Tremor: Iridium
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-12-26 08:42:37
My Score:

It is six years since the last album from Empty Tremor, "The Alien Inside", which was released through Frontiers Records. For their fourth album the band have moved to SG Records and also parted company with keyboard player Daniele Liverani and drummer Stefano Ruizzi. Returning to the fold however is singer Gio de Luigi who sang on both of the band's first two albums, although Oliver Hartmann (Avantastia/At Vance/Rhapsody) stood in for "The Alien Inside" when Gio left the band in 2000. So with Luigi now back on board, the rest of the line up for "Iridium" is Dennis Randi (bass), Marco Guerrini, Christian Tombetti (both guitar), alongside new boys Marco Scott Gilardi (keyboards) and Dario Ciccioni (drums).

Previous Empty Tremor albums have been compared to the standard progressive metal sound that relies heavily on Dream Theater however with "Iridium" the band's sound has evolved into someone a whole lot less stereotypical. Opening track "Breaking The Mirror" kicks off in style with a bright and catchy keyboard motif that is backed by a sharp, yet restrained riff. However it is the clean sharp vocals of the returning Giovanni that really make the strongest impact, with his full rich tones reminding strongly of Danny Vaughn (of melodic rockers Tyketto). It is not often that you hear a singer that hits the notes that de Luigi does with such supreme ease and it a pleasure to listen to a vocalist that genuinely doesn't need to stretch himself to impress in this way. All that though would be wasted if the band behind the voice weren't as spectacularly adept as Empty Tremor are and while both Guerrini and Tombetti are excellent guitarists, it is the keyboard playing of Marco Scott Gilardi that really dominates the songs or "Iridium".

Whether it is the slower paced, brooding "Warm Embrace", or the technically challenging time changes and themes of "The Last Day On Earth", the six members of Empty Tremor continue to dazzle with their musical wizardry. However it is the strength of the song writing that really hits home, with the fusion of accessible melody, tasteful song structures and the room for all the musicians to strut their stuff that makes "Iridium" such a memorable collection of songs. Add de Luigi's vocals to that mix and Empty Tremor are onto a sure fire winner that should see them emerge as a true force in the progressive metal genre.

Empty Tremor: Iridium
Posted by Jordan Blum, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-09-30 15:12:49
My Score:

Empty Tremor's newest release, Iridium, initially plays as merely just another prog metal album with impassioned vocals, fancy keyboard and guitar work, and arresting rhythms. But as the album sinks in with repeated listenings, Empty Tremor reveals a sufficiently unique take on the genre. It's less redundant than you might think.

This Italian sextet formed in 1993 as a cover band, recreating the hits of Metallica and Pink Floyd, among others. Eventually guitarist/keyboardist Daniele Liverani joined them and brought a progressive rock influence. Iridium is the first album without Liverani (he left in 2006 to pursue a solo career). While comparisons to Dream Theater are quite warranted (the band even appeared on a 1999 tribute album, Voices), Empty Tremor are really their own entity.

The album opens with a bang in the form of "Breaking the Mirror." Its crunchy riffs, mesmerizing keyboard and energy demand attention. Giò De Luigi (who sang on their first two releases) lets his voice soar like Bruce Dickenson and the acappella that closes the track exemplifies one of Empty Tremor's standout qualities. Throughout the album, operatic harmonies introduce tangential melodies, which provide an interesting diversion from the main verses De Luigi presents.

"Warm Embrace" is a standout track because of its dynamics. It opens like a ballad before erupting into heavy prog glory. At over ten minutes long, it showcases everything the band is capable of and, like a lot of the album, for reasons perhaps intangible, it's reminiscent of Fates Warning's masterpiece, A Pleasant Shade of Gray. Empty Tremor reveals its softer side with "Everyday." While it's true that every metal band wears their hearts on their sleeves with these commercial moments, it's still a beautiful track, if a little clichéd too.

Iridium closes with its title track, which is also its most layered and complex offering. Relatively, it's the album's crescendo; it multitracks just about everything it can before fading away. Like the rest of the album, Empty Tremor devotes greater attention to being melodic than many contemporaries. Although much of the album is bombastic, it's never overly aggressive; the band never screams "look how loud and fast we can play!" It's invigorating to have a prog metal album that takes its time revealing all its nuisances rather than exploding at the surface with technical wizardry. Iridium successfully sets itself apart in a genre that's becoming overly saturated with similar sounds, and Empty Tremor is an act to watch for.



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