There sure seems to be a lot of metal coming out of Brazil lately, enough to make this the second review in a month for me of Brazilian metal. When your home country is also home to bands like Skin Culture and the might Sepultura, one does tend to have rather high expectations for metal coming out of Brazil. X-Empire was originally formed in 2012 as a side project called X by Michel Marcos (X), Rogerio Oliveira (ChimeraH) and Raphael Jorge (Heptah) in Sao Paolo, but after working on material the band decided to move forward as a full time project.
End of Times, much like so many albums these days, starts out with a keyboard dominated orchestral intro song, “Principium Et Finis”, but then launches right into the groovy “Fallen” with primarily shouted and sung clean vocals accented by some growling death metal parts. There’s a bit of Bruce Dickinson going on in the vocals at time and I hear even sounds from the band Pillar in other parts. Fairly heavy, rocking song overall with a decent but very short guitar solo.
“War Cry” is next up and introduces the first style change as the band incorporates some electronic elements and extra percussion . The production and mixing is strong on the ep with the instruments all easily discernible in the overall sound and the drums heavy and pounding. Heavy, groove metal seems to be where X-Empire has found their niche. I’m not the biggest fan of the chorus part of the song, but the extended percussion runs at the end more than make up for it.
When I first heard “No Answers”, I thought I had the wrong band. This is an 80’s hair metal power ballad and seems completely out of place after the preceding songs. Honestly, I skipped through it hoping it would change as it’s just not to my liking at all. Thankfully, that style change didn’t last long and “Scars from the Past” rages and roars from the start in what is the heaviest song on the album to this point. Again, some good, heavy groove present and clean shouted vocals keep the song moving along at a good rate until a piano section brings back the 80’s power ballad for a brief spell, but thankfully the song finishes strong. “End of Times” continues in the trend of heavy groove metal with odd interludes that break the momentum and continuity for a time but then the groove returns and the song finishes strong. “Reflections in the Dark” is an atmospheric keyboard outro and with “Principium Et Finis” make for good bookends to the songs on the ep.
X-Empire have put together some really strong sections of songs but I find myself really not liking parts of most of the songs. The parts I don’t like are typically short but really disrupt the overall flow to the songs. Combine those sections with the oddly out-of-place ballad “No Answers” and I get the feeling the band is still looking to craft their unique sound. Based on this ep, if you’re a fan of music with a very metal, heavy groove that veers toward power metal at times, you’ll want to check out X-Empire as there is a lot here to like. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to hope they veer exclusively toward the heavier side of things.
Written by John Jackson
1. Principium Et Finis
4. No Answers
5. Scars from the Past
6. End of Times
7. Reflections in the Dark
Michel Marcos – Vocals
Rogério Oliveira – Guitars / Vocals
Felipe Gabriel – Guitar Bass
Raphael Jorge – Drums
Record Label: Independent, May 2014
Video for ‘Fallen’
Video for ‘No Answers’