Genre: Black Metal
1. Man's Conspiracy
2. Leader of Self Deceit
3. Total Illusion
I had the pleasure of seeing this band open at Messe des Morts II.V. I was really there to see Forteresse and bear witness to Mgła first appearance in North America. One thing I learned at Messe des Morts is that the local opening bands are actually pretty good. So with that in mind I was on time and got to see Black Empire perform. They were good enough live to purchase their demo and see if that translated to the recordings as well.
While "Crown of a Million Kings" is a pretty decent demo, I must say I think they were better live. Then again this demo is now about four years old, so I will try and keep that in mind when comparing to the live set. Black Empire play a brand of Black Metal that isn't very vicious or raw sounding, but it's probably more of a mid-paced style of Black Metal. I feel they do a good job at arranging the songs competently when it comes to pacing and trade off with fast and slow sections enough. This way things don't get overly repetitive like some Black Metal albums can. Unfortunately I think many will see Black Empire as being a little generic, and to some degree they are. The Dark Funeral influence is fairly obvious, to the point where I would say they're basically the Dark Funeral of Canada. I suppose this isn't a bad thing if you enjoy Dark Funeral, which I do.
The demo is actually fairly well recorded. Everything is mixed very well too, the only thing I'm not too into is the guitar tone. This is where I think the live setting made a big difference for me. The guitars sounded extremely good live. It also heavily depends on the sound system you're using, for example this didn't sound as good in my car. But on my computer it actually sounded a lot better. The reason I didn't like the guitar tone is because when they get into the sections that involve any kind of palm muting you get this weird high frequency showing up. There's a couple reasons this could happen. Perhaps Audeath is holding the pick at such an angle that he's scraping the strings ever so slightly. I hope that is not the case because that would mean he has issues with his technique. I don't think this is the problem anyway, because this never showed up live, if I remember correctly. Or ti's probably because some feedback was starting to generate from the guitar. Either way it really took away from the recording for me.
The packaging for the demo is very homemade. It's clearly just printed on a home printer and burned onto a CDr. There is sort of a booklet and it at least has the lyrics printed. They must've used up so much black ink with this. Still, it's not a bad design overall and it works well for getting their music out there.
Overall this was a decent demo. It wasn't spectacular, but most of the songs are pretty well written. I would love to see them get into a studio and do a full length though. Based on the live set I think they've put together some pretty good stuff.