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I've heard many things about these guys time ago. A couple of known metal vocalists like Tony Martin and Doogie White were part of this project so, as I tend to believe that worldwide, metal vocal style became more of an "i'm pure attitude" stuff instead of the all classic type of good and powerful singing, I gave a chance on this band, mostly trying to know how is it.
The first album by The Empire that I've took time to listen carefully was this one. Mostly because it gave me, among all the other ones, the finest initial impression. And yes, I must say we witness here a nice example of neo-classic heavy metal. The three previous albums (though I didn't took care of them as I did with this one, I'll review them as far as I can) sound erratic and with an unclear definition of the way to take for making it. Maybe a slight exception can be "The Raven Ride", which contains the filling and eclectic lines by Don Airey, from Deep Purple, no more no less, and Martin hits his best there. Here, it seems that Doogie has it more clear and provides another approach, a more straightforward yet modern one to the whole production.
And yes, DP classic metal sound can be found in here. Of course, with nearly 40 years of evolution, but the idea is like the same. Rolfie Munkes has a kinda Blackmore-esque style of riffing and the atmosphere leads us to the moments when Purple guys were creating In Rock, Fireball or Machine Head. Notwithstanding and, of course, modernity had chance to polish the roots in here and The Empire has its own sound.
Melodic vocals by the scotman with the rawness though melody-bringing compositions, that's the key for entering The Empire. The opening track is a clear handful of proof for it. But the high strike arrives with "The Alter", where the band, as an unique piece of music droppers, shoot us like machine gunners the finest metal song of the record. The riffs are gigantic and the bass lines are capable enough to stand Doogie's requierements for singing.
Other standouts are "Mother Father Holy Ghost", with a more mainstream approach and with Rolf Munkes and Neil Murray forming a huge society of harmonic theming. Also, "Tahigwan Nights" with the neo-classical speed metal approach and a riff which reminds us of the latter works by King Diamond and "Angel and the Gambler" which also has the radio-friendly tune and singing but works completely out, specially with Doogie and the performance of Mike Terrana in the drums, which are outstanding enough specially in this track.
The main issue of this record are the rest of the songs. They are not strictly bad ones. As an unique body of work, they manage to complete corretcly their duty but somehow, their sound lies between mellowness and mediocrity. It's like they can't define clearly what do they want to do with their band. If they want to be speedy, melodic, classic-sounding or whatever. So, even if they are nice standing ones, out of the place, they have nothing to do but to fill the album.
After saying this, I'll admit that this band is a promising one. If they can define themselves and take a definitive path in their sounding, we can probably hear lots of great things to come from them. Let's give some time for this new line-up to put the things together and maybe we shall have a new music Empire to share the rules of this realm.