Sound — 9
I've been listening for Devil Sold His Soul for about 4 years now and I pay close attention to every album they release. I gotta admit, I don't think that their previous album is nearly as good as this one or the first one. Everyone is batsh*t crazy about "Blessed & Cursed", but it sort of lacked the dark atmosphere of A Fragile Hope and it's atmosphere. On the other hand, "Empire Of Light" is like a direct heir and descendant (?!) of their first album. My opinion is that Devil Sold His Soul took the freshness and the progress they made with their second album and put all that through the prism of their first album, sort of. Their work on the that album ("Empire Of Light") is amazing - the guitar parts are both extremely heavy and energetic and melodic and emotional when needed, supported by solid bass which helps to strengthen the enormous wall of sound that Devil Sold His Soul build in their songs; Leks did mind-wrecking work on the drums, my god, on this album the drums are amazing; Paul Kitney does magnificent work with the samples and adds a perfect little touch, filling the gaps between the frequencies; and the vocals have the crisp and bitterness/sourness of the first album. An interesting model can be find in a couple of songs on that album-a song starts with a nice, melodic and harmonic sounding and at the end it goes absolutely berzerk, including breakdowns and guitar parties that are heavier than an aircraft carrier; or vice versa. Such pattern brings much diversity to the sounding of the album and makes the songs absolute pleasure to listen.
Lyrics — 9
As I said before, Ed Gibbs takes a step back and the screams are more similar to these in their first album and are also pulled back just slightly in the background. His growls are filled with some sort of bitterness (I don't know exactly, English is not my first language :/) and so much emotion, you can hear and feel every aspect of the lyrics. Speaking of lyrics, if you can't understand them, then google them. I won't be making a analysis of the lyrics, they are extremely long and I am incredibly lazy right now, but here's what I can say about them: read them and see what you can find in them for yourself. Ed's lyrics are both about harsh times which everyone has at some point in their lives and how one must never surrender to them, about hope and cherishing and valuing your past, your present and future. I gotta say that all in all, despite the fact that some lyrics are really dark, the album leaves you with some sort of a warm, positive feeling. :)
Overall Impression — 9
If I lost the album or something like that I would absolutely buy it again. As a fan of Devil Sold His Soul I have to say that this is maybe their most mature album SO FAR, and you can feel how much effort they put in that album. I like the duality of some of the songs, how Ed switches just for a second from time to time from clean to growl, but I can't help thinking that some of the song could have been a minute or two longer. I recommend "Empire Of Light" to every one that liked "A Fragile Hope" and the music of Mahumodo.