Empyrean Throne Are Lake Forest Vikings

Categories: Locals Only

Empyrean Throne have almost all the qualities of a vicious, Scandinavian, black-metal band. They hold a mythological and literary name, hang Viking war banners at their live shows, and utilize dark, symphonic instrumentality. Vocalist Andrew Knudsen even sports a pair of Gorgoroth-style spiked cuffs on his forearms. Yet there is an important characteristic astray--they're from Lake Forest.

We all know punk, hardcore and metalcore have definitely left their mark on OC music culture. But it's rare to see a young, local band heavily inspired by European black metal and such gargantuan acts as Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth and Fleshgod Apocalypse. After a trip to Scandinavia in 2011 to connect with family heritage, Knudsen and bassist John Ashbaugh forged their OC sextet as the "American answer" to their Nordic, black-metal brethren.
"Being in a band in Orange County near the big music and film mecca of Los Angeles has helped in finding musicians interested in playing this European style of music and being passionate about performing," Knudsen says. "A lot of people are into these heavy, beat-down slam bands."

They've never shied away from the intellectual side of metal. The band's name derives from a term for the summation of an indifferent source of power emanating a sense of chaos. Empyrean Throne combine technical death-metal components with screeching vocals and foreboding, diminished minor chords. Then there's the symphonic arrangements composed by cellist Kakophonix.

Knudsen and Kakophonix met during Abigail Williams' farewell tour at the Black Castle in LA. "We always wanted the symphonic ingredient," Knudsen says. "But it was hard to find a musician who really excels in that instrumental area who would be committed to a blackened death-metal band or even know much about the genre."

So far, they've played myriad shows with several local groups--including Xanthochroid, Voices of Ruin and Sacred Ruins--as well as Aborted, Kataklysm and Disgorge. They've also made inroads in the festival circuit, playing the 2012 Summer Slaughter tour and the 2013 OC Deathfest.

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