Empusae is a project by Nicolas Van Meirhaeghe, otherwise known for his live work with In Slaughter Natives and Ah Cama-Sotz, and for his work with among others Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio and Onus. Having made sporadic releases since at least 2002, Empusae has intensified its pace a little bit in the past five years or so, releasing at least one album, alone or together with some other artist, per year. Lueur is the 2017 effort.
Lueur is an album not really tied to any particular genre, though it definitely falls under the iron umbrella of industrial music. There’s a strong scent of dark ambient hanging over the recording, but that is more from the point of view of atmosphere than the actual music. There are certainly ambient passages, for instance in the very beginning of the album, but things intensify and change rather quickly. There’s only two songs, but both last more than 20 minutes.
“Guiding light” moves between more or (often) less ambient synth work and rhythmic, musical passages with drum work and longing vocals. Piano, heavy and bass dominated synth choirs and layers upon layers of melodies builds a dark, epic song which is equal parts soundtrack, club music and food for solitary meditation. About fifteen minutes in, screaming reminiscent of Urfaust’s vocals complement a general intensification of the music as a whole, building towards the climax, and a lengthy but satisfying cool-down period leading to a rather abrupt ending.
“Retinae tenebrae” begins with an ominous dark ambient note, swiftly overtaken by other notes and instruments, including strings. While the previous song flirted with “regular” song writing, this is a more solid ritual ambient/industrial thing. That is not to say that it is any worse. Seamlessly shifting between industrial ambient and classical art music, it is punctuated by choice percussion work and a brilliantly composed piece. The above reference to film soundtracks is of course even more relevant for this song, as it moves between uplifting major, oppressive minor and brief spells of almost-non-music – with ritualistic and tribal elements acting as an exotic spice.