About Me

Interview with Empyrean Fire

One of 2020 last releases was signed by Empyrean Fire, a Portland three-piece band, formed by Tricia Myers (vocals), Jason Yorke (guitar/bass//backing vocals) and Brian Rush (keyboards/backing vocals). Their debut album, Deliverance, is a melodic and symphonic black metal album with nods to bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, Dissection and Dark Funeral. It also has influences from thrash and death metal especially in some of the riffs. The story and inspiration behind the album are the classic works of literature "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained." We talked to Brian about all this.

M.I. - Hello! Thank you for your time in answering our questions. And congratulations on the excellent first album!

Thanks for having us on.  

M.I. - First of all and because you are a new band, do you want to make a presentation? Who are Empyrean Fire and how did you come to be?

Sure. Empyrean Fire started as a concept project by frontwoman, Tricia Myers. When I came into the fold, we were about to head in a direction influenced by Dead Can Dance and Sisters of Mercy. A few months later, Jason Yorke came on and the direction shifted significantly to what all three of us know and love: metal.

M.I. - In ancient cosmologies, the Empyrean Heaven was the place in the highest heaven, which was supposed to be occupied by the element of fire. In Christian literature, it was the dwelling-place of God, the blessed, celestial beings so divine they are made of pure light, and the source of light and creation. But your music is very, very dark and sinister. There is a contradiction here. So why did you choose that name?

Yes, Empyrean Heaven is the highest of the high, pure fire, pure light. We were inspired by this. Most associate fire with Hell. Lucifer, the bringer of light, strove to thrive above the throne, to be the highest of the high, to reign above the stars. Fire is the supreme symbol of that which moves man, nature, and other divine entities. To us it represents creation, a salute to the light-bearer.

M.I. - Which are your influences? Which bands / artists do you listen the most?

We all have huge palettes. Personally, I am attracted to extreme energy on one end of the spectrum, and lush, atmospheric, fantasy-driven soundscapes on the other. In relation to this band, Mystic Circle, Bal Sagoth, and Anorexia Nervosa have been on heavy rotation.  

M.I. - Who is the main composer? Does everyone participate in creating the songs?

Tricia is the catalyst in the songwriting chain. She had a definitive direction for each song that Jason interpreted and transposed to the realm of metal. After the basic structure has been established, I write and record the synth parts, which then go back to Jason for mixing, and all three of us complete vocal recording.

M.I. - Is your drummer full time? Will there be a definitive 4th member in the band?

Michael Thompson came on just as we were wrapping up recording for 'Deliverance'. Although it is a long way off, we hope he will be with us on the next recording.

M.I. - Speaking now about Deliverance... What is the theme of the album? It’s based on John Milton’s Paradise Lost, right? Even the cover is an illustration by Gustav Doré. Why this particular work?

Yes! It is based on Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. It is an audio trip through war, despair, and Hell! Those poems are beautifully written, and the story is beautiful and brutal. Among the big themes like desire and war, it's also about accepting choices and cultivating resolve in the face of adversity. The Last Judgment by Gustav Dore is representative of Lucifer being cast from Heaven for his unaccepted truth.  

M.I. - How has the reception been, mainly, by critics?

Generally, the reception has been positive. Symphonic black metal is not really a popular genre anymore, but considering more people are into metal now then there ever have been in the past, it's making a small splash! Obviously, the outlets that are supportive of romantic and fantastical music have more good things to say.

M.I. - Did the album come out as you intended or, now, listening to the final product, would you still make changes?

It came out beyond my expectations. I'm very happy with how it turned out.

M.I. - How was the recording process? Did it take too long? I imagine that with the pandemic situation, it was not easy and there were constraints.

The recording process did take a long time at first, but once we hit our stride, things went smoothly. There were definitely constraints given the pandemic. All of the recording was done at home and there was lots of file transferring, revising, transferring again, and on and on.

M.I. - Do you have any live performances planned (for a more or less near future, because the situation is difficult)?

We were beginning to prep for live shows just before the pandemic hit. As of now, we're at a standstill until the situation improves.

M.I. - How are you thinking about presenting the album live? How do you think to transport all that symphony, power and brutality to the stage? With orchestral elements?

Well, for a brand new band, we have to rely on the equipment we have for the moment. I would play bass live because it would be a closer interpretation of the energy behind the songs. I have yet to see a symphonic metal keyboard player convey the majesty of what's actually been recorded. They're either statues or over-indulge on it. It's a tough instrument to maneuver for club shows. Of course, if anyone has an orchestra we can borrow, let us know!

M.I. - How have you been promoting the album?

We do what we can on social media, but it's tough to find the right niche outlets beyond a general audience, and we also don't have all the time in the world to dedicate to it. I believe MDR has been handling a lot of the media promo.

M.I. - You released the album through Heavy Gloom Productions. Who are they and why did you choose them?

Heavy Gloom Productions is Jason's label. He is the mastermind behind atmospheric black metal project, Eternal Valley, but also releases other black metal projects on HGP.

M.I. - It is still early but have you already planned something for the upcoming album?

Yes! Writing is underway and a few more tracks already have basic blueprints ready.

M.I. - Before we finish, any last words for our readers?

Support what you like. Consider, but don't blindly accept what tastemakers tell you. Snobs have been duped!

M.I. - Thanks for the time, stay safe and I hope to see you on stage sometime soon!

Cheers.  Thanks for having us.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Ivan Santos