One gets the distinct feeling that AZURE EMOTE would have never bothered to reconvene from its self-imposed, six year hiatus had frontman, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and all around conductor, Mike Hrubovcak, been granted his true secret wish of joining the Philadelphia Philharmonic.
Alas, he was not, so it was back to the ol' day job of concocting AZURE EMOTE's sophomore volume of orchestrated musical violence and exotica via 2013's "The Gravity of Impermanence", which finds our hero (plus his clearly pathetic, single-instrument-wielding henchmen, guitarist Ryan Moll and drummer Mike Heller) molding a mighty impressive sympho-industrialized death/black metal barrage out of fascinating excursions like "Epoch of De-Evolution", "Marching Forth", "Destroyer of Suffering", "The Color of Blood", and other hybrid adventures fueled by an almost Dada-like philosophy.
But it doesn't end there... oh, no.
Female operatic soloists are soon being ushered into the pit to provide sharp dynamic contrasts, resulting in positively breathtaking (scary and disorienting, too, but then that's the point) demonic/angelic battles waged across the musical firmament of songs like "Carpe Diem", "Patholysis" and "Puppet Deities", which soar, swoop, collide, and plummet out of the turbulent clouds overhead.
On "Veils of Looming Despair", the same portly opera dame reappears, now with hands clasped before her ample chest, Viking horns atop her golden locks (well, one can dream!), the better to intermittently share stage center with blackened metallic onslaughts, as venomous violins saw away in the background, amid tormented screams.
And then things get really wacky, as even more unnatural and unpredictable compositional pairings rear their spiny scales over ensuing mutations such as "Dissent" (with its swirling synths and heart-stopping percussive acrobatics), "Obsessive Time Directive" (see jazzy sax plus acid beats), "The Living Spiral" (are those brass sections farting like that?) and "Sunrise Slaughter", which - hells bells! - seems to soundtrack the slaying of springtime piglets to a zombie Dylan harmonica!
All of which elevates the entire spectacle - every beautifully petrifying and magically stupefying moment of it - to something akin to a condemned musical theater troupe, casually working its trade in and around the ninth circle suburbs; which is another way of saying that, if AZURE EMOTE's peculiar musical smorgasbord doesn't sound like sheer heaven to you, it sure as shit will sound like hell.
In all seriousness, though, for all its eye-brow twisting quirks, eccentricities and unconventional creative turns, "The Gravity of Impermanence" is never anything less than wildly entertaining, and more frequently brilliantly so than embarrassingly.
Such is the price for originality, and that's one quality AZURE EMOTE should be commended for in this command performance - Bravo! And take that Philly Philharmonic!