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Shade Empire - "Poetry of the Ill-Minded" (CD)

Shade Empire - "Poetry of the Ill-Minded" CD cover image

"Poetry of the Ill-Minded" track listing:

1. Lecter (Welcome)
2. Wanderer
3. Drawn to Water - The Path
4. Thy Scent
5. Anto-Life Saviour
6. Map of Scars
7. Treasure (In Liquid Dreams of Mirror Universe)

Reviewed by on December 7, 2017

"Four years later they sat down at the writing table and decided to make it weird(er). And they did. And it works."

To properly understand “Poetry of the Ill-Minded,” we first are well-served to recall Shade Empire’s previous long player, “Omega Arcane” (2013) - it is still an absolute monolith of Finnish Symphonic Melodic Black Death Whatever Else. Occupying that joyous place where Hell’s Orchestra scores video games with the most powerful chords ever written, “Omega Arcane” is something that will spin on playlists until the blackest of holes emerges from the universal blackness to swallow our pitiful pebble.

As we wait for our eventual demise, how to judge Shade Empire’s subsequent slab, “Poetry of the Ill-Minded” when put against such a triumph? Well let’s first start with some ridiculous description that means nothing (but sounds cool, amiright?!), how about…. Hell’s Orchestra got super high on mescaline and wrote the soundtrack to David Lynch movies. Okay, awesome, but, what?

The opening cut, “Lecter,” smashes just-slightly-and-I-imagine-deliberately-off-key clean vocals with a dramatic intro that’s taken a turn for the worse. “Wanderer” has black metal power chords, lyrical strings some, errrmmm…. flutes? Yea, totally flutes. Maybe a trumpet. No, wait, the jazz trumpet is on “Thy Scent.” It's hard to keep track. Either way, it’s weird.

Album standout “Anti-Life Savior” is the sum of the remainders from the rest of the songs, is another absolute triumph, but in a completely different way than “Omega Arcane.” The guitar themes throughout are sadly hopeful in that weird 1980s-meaningful type of way and could easily score the monologue scenes in Terminator 2. The spoken word intro is meaty and delightfully cheesy. The interludes are 1990s grunge B-side ballad noodling, save the creepy growls over top, of course. Meanwhile “Drawn to Water – The Path” gets back to the power-chords so we all can have some good mosh pitting.

Full disclosure – ”Poetry of the Ill-Minded” did take a while to get into. I ripped the plastic off and slammed it into my discman right when it was released but was initially disappointed because it is so different than “Omega Arcane.” At the risk of making a surreal comparison – Salvador Dali mastered every other style of painting before he got weird. Same thing here. Shade Empire wrote their God-defeating symphonic black-death album already. Four years later they sat down at the writing table and decided to make it weird(er). And they did. And it works. And it’s so fucking good.

Highs: "Anti Life Saviour"'s melody is just so unnerving it fantastic.

Lows: None.

Bottom line: Total departure of previous excellent work is still excellent.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)