Following on from their debut record, Hither Thither, O Emperor followed folklore and ventured beyond the crystals of Waterford and boarders of their native Ireland. For the past three years, the five-piece have been seeing the world from the rise of a stage, with slots at Benicassim, SXSW, Electric Picnic and by touring with the likes of Villagers. However, longing for the Port of Cork, the group returned to their homemade studio 'Big Skin HQ' in the latter stages of 2012. Now that the months have galloped by, Paul Savage, Alan Comerford, Paul Christie, Brendan Fennessy and Richie Walsh are able to offer us the fruits of their labour and sophomore album, Vitreous, in Summer 2013.

In less than half an hour, O Emperor manage to immerse the listener in so much, artistically. Almost immediately we're greeted by frustration and longing words for the "shit of the city" as opposed to the reflective prose of 'Don Quixote'; these same parallels are recurring themes throughout the LP. The atmospheric nature of opener 'Grandmother Mountain' really excels and enthrals, with the pertinent spikes of rhythm and aggression remaining intensely in-sync with washes of cymbals and a small string section. Soon enough, leading single 'Holy Fool' arrives. With the close-proximity, softly delivered vocal and tin can synthesisers, you can tell that these guys have been listening to The Sophtware Slump.

The production on Vitreous is artistic and brave, so much so that after your first listen you won't need me to tell you that it is a self-produced record. Thankfully it is, though! The ever-changing, ambient and, often aggressive, sound of the album is a defining feature; you should take 'Brainchild' and pit against the rolling swells of 'Soft in the Head'. These songs have strong sentiments which are perpetuated by ambitious production as opposed to castrated, an issue that many European records have had in recent times. O Emperor lead by an autonomous example, and because of that, the record thrives.

In the press release, the group said that "beautiful landscapes are destroyed with disparate, abrasive sounds" on this LP, this sentiment is carried out in the songs in many respects. For example we can hear the industrial, high-pitched guitars against the light blows of woodwind on the otherwise absent-minded 'Minuet'. This is also apparent is the use of a 'red herring' chord in what are otherwise reasonably conventional sounding progressions: listen to 'Land Of The Living' to hear this enjoyable and subtle nuance of the songwriting. It's like building a Nuclear power plant on the Comeragh Mountains.

This is a succinct release with a groundswell of depth. It is empirically difficult to sense how much deeper O Emperor can go, however, and the brief and beautiful Vitreous feels very much like a vignette for later elaboration. This is an album which, as opposed to having defined moments, breaths to a consistent heartbeat.