Breaking The Undertow – Empyrean – Review

Breaking The UndertowA performer, recording engineer, and producer based in Brampton, Canada, Trevor Heaslip recently released a new single entitled, “Empyrean,” under the moniker Breaking The Undertow. With music and lyrics written by Heaslip, the song “Empyrean” is like a mish-mash of pop-punk, emo, electronica, and alternative rock.

Breaking The Undertow – Empyrean

Overall the arrangement is dynamic yet sparse, (mostly just vocals, guitar, and drums) whereas the chorus has a much heavier rock breakdown, yet there’s still not many other textures needed than that. An arpeggiated guitar melody is introduced in the beginning before the song trudges into a kick drum dominant drumbeat. Heaslip’s vocals have a hard vowel articulation and heavy electronic production effects on them that sometimes become difficult to understand what they’re saying. Yet this muddiness seems to be intentional on the production end, demonstrating an interesting hybrid created between the music and lyrics, matching man and machine in a balance of the natural and the electronic that is pleasing to the ear:

“I will breathe you in like oxygen

This hospital love helps me survive, keeps me alive

With you beside me I will thrive”

There is an aggravated vocal delivery in the verses, whereas the pre-chorus is more of a soft and languid melody. After the melancholy exasperation of the chorus we are left with the original guitar hook from the beginning, which eventually fades into the sound of a fainting pulse on a heart monitor that zeroes out. The listener can tell that the character within the song has ceased. Empyrean, by definition, means the highest heaven, supposed by the ancients to contain the pure element of fire. Heaslip uses references to a hospital, a heart monitor going flat, and phrases like “metastasized in my brain” to describe a metaphorical comparison between the physical dependence on love versus medicine, and how both can be the difference between keeping a person alive or not.

“Empyrean” is a dynamic song that bleeds into your ear holes with dynamic contrast and bright backing harmonies, increasing in energy as it goes. Breaking The Undertow captures all the feelings one would feel if they were physically dependent on a machine to live – frustration, desperation, love, and longing for life.

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