Embers sure do know how to write a riff. The riffs on their third full length, Shadows, will stick to your ribs and get stuck in your head. The dueling guitar melodies find the perfect balance between repetition and variation throughout the albums 10 songs. Embers write catchy, melodic guitar lines delivered with crusty, temolo-picked blackened fervor. More words, song preview and links after the jump.
One thing that needs to be discussed about Shadows is the extensive use of keyboards. Keyboards are a dividing factor amongst metalheads, specifically when it comes to black metal. The use of keys can easily push an awesome song into the realm of cheesiness, however when used correctly, keyboard lines can really enhance or drive home a melody. The use of keys on this record only add, never subtract to the vibe of the songs. The keys, which often mimic the sound of a choir, are buried in enough smokey haze to where they sound like they’re emanating from the dust of a collapsing church. These ghostly sounds work with the guitars, sighing in and out of their buzz saw distortion, or sometimes just standing alone by themselves.
The musical performances on Shadows are stellar. The drums can be extremely fast and brutal as well as lock into some serious groove. The vocals are handled by Kelly Nelson and Timm Kennedy. Both vocalists are distinct and bring something unique to the songs. Kellys vocals are scathing and throaty (think Ludicra) whereas Timm’s vocals are a deep, gutteral demonic belch. They alternate vocal lines, but when they double up, the sound is nothing short of terrifying.
The two vocalists, two guitarists and keyboards make Shadows a very full sounding album. There is always something interesting going on in the mix, and all the instruments never sound cluttered. You need to have some patience to make it through the hour plus running time of the album, but it is a rewarding listen. As of this writing, Embers are still looking for a label to release this album. Until you can get your hands on that sweet double vinyl, you can stream or download the album from the Embers bandcamp page. Also visit the Embers blog.