Frusciante asserts that the record "was recorded on and off between December 2006 and March 2008," and is a concept album that tells "a single story both musically and lyrically."The Empyrean contains a version of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren", from his 1970 album Starsailor. The record also features an array of collaborators and guest musicians, including Frusciante's former band mate Flea, and friends Josh Klinghoffer and former The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. Due to an error at the duplication plant, the United States CD release date was delayed until January 27. On June 2nd, 2010, a new bonus track, Here, Air, was added to the album, freely available at John's website.
On December 11, 2012, Record Collection re-issued various John Frusciante albums released from 2004 to 2009, including The Empyrean. These re-issued albums are available on 180 gram limited edition vinyl. Each LP also comes with a download card for your choice of MP3 or WAV file. The Empyrean was one of the most sought after John Frusciante LPs from the 2012 catalog reissue. According to John Frusciante's official website, the pre-order of the limited edition vinyl was sold out as of November 24, 2012; therefore, making it the first from the limited catalog reissue to do so. Additional stock of recording would be available in 2013.
A song which was written during The Empyrean sessions, "Scratch", was released as a free download on February 18, 2014 as an introductory track to the full-length record Enclosure released April 8, 2014.
At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 69, based on 8 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews."