Estonian metal genre isn´t very well known, so I put Empyros “The Spectre of Ballantre” into my CD player with great interest. Promotional letter (that was taken directly from one Estonian metal site) implied their debut album would be a mixture of traditional heavy metal and thrash metal with social oriented lyrical themes. According to their biography this Tallinn-based band was formed 2002 and had several changes of members until the current line-up were established. This pretty much explains the long time for the self-produced debut album to see the daylight in 2008.
“Spectre of Ballantre” is a good choice for an opening track. It gives nice impression of their ability to play thrashy and outgoing metal and makes you want some more. “Lost Wanderer” also made my leg move. “As a Rain” is a little even although it contains nice classic heavy rock guitar solo. “Imaginary Hero” and “Executioners World” both had some Maiden elements with their “riding” guitars. In “Loser” one can clearly hear strong old school thrash influences a la early Metallica. “Exceeding Man” could easily be from Metallica´s “Garage Inc.” album, really nice and rolling track. Closure song is called snidely “Self Confidence”. It is too quite straight forward and ongoing and leaves a good aftertaste in your mouth (or ears to be exact).
“The Spectre of Ballantre” is a decent debut album if you forgot the quality of production. Empyros prove they can play nice metal. Music is fluent and reminds Iron Maiden from many aspects. Vocals part is something they need to improve. In TSoB it tends to be both traditional, clean singing and harsh screaming and the end result is somewhere in the middle. All in all, Finnish promoters should be aware and bring Empyros across the Gulf of Finland as supporting artist in Finland. They are good enough and in Finland Estonian metal is quite exotic occurrence. Empyros would also gain a little fame in one of the most metal country in the world.