Firstly, vibe check. Yep, it’s dark, it’s grey, it’s drizzly outside, the perfect time to listen to the new Empyre album! I’ve been excited for this one for a while now. Having seen them the last couple of years at festivals and chatting to them at Call of the Wild last year, it’s been great to see them on the up and up every time. Having checked out the lead single and opening track and love it, too, I can’t wait to dive in. Let’s check out the moody hard rock album and see what it’s like!
As I said, I love ‘Relentless’. Opening an album straight into vocals is a bold choice but Henrik’s voice is so damn good and fits so well over the clean-ish guitars it’s hard not to instantly adore. The slow pace is beautiful, and makes the heavier riff even more impactful when it explodes in. What a riff it is, too! The vocals stay catchy and arena-filling throughout and the whole track has a massively epic feel to it with all the building and layers. I can see this on a huge stage show in a dark arena with a sick lightshow. Either way, this has been on the playlist for a while now, a phenomenal track!
Another single, ‘Waking Light’, picks up where ‘Relentless’ leaves off. The cleaner guitars, slower pace and low, booming vocals make everything feel huge and epic. It doesn’t get quite as heavy as the previous track but follows a similar formula of building up and having plenty of dynamics. The chorus is amazing too, so catchy and melodic over the almost proggy instrumentation. The build-up to the final chorus in particular is fantastic. It’s another amazing track. So far it feels like the band have somehow raised the bar again with this third album.
‘Parasites’ opens even quieter than the other two. The choir vocals building up more and more in the beginning adds another interesting layer to it all, too. And, I’m going to use that same word again, but it really is epic. Henrik’s vocals soon come in over the top, as do the drums, all leading to some of the best riffs I’ve ever heard. proggy and even djenty playing from the guitars that is backed up perfectly by the bass and drums is exactly what I needed, and exactly what I got. It had some definite Tool vibes going on. As much as I love the chorus, these riffs after it are my favourite part of the track. Still, it’s another awesome track all round!
After maybe a touch too long of an intro, ‘Cry Wolf’ explodes in with a huge power metal riff and some amazingly catchy vocals. The gaps between the huge guitar stabs and vocals, not just in the verses but the choruses, leave everything so open and every time it sounded amazing. It’s such a talent to write stuff like that and I’m now desperate to see it live. The harmonies in the choruses were a nice touch, adding just enough to the main vocal. The riff is fairly basic but with everything else in the track it’s hugely effective. I love it being dragged out Tool-style after the second chorus, too. They got so much out of it and rightfully so. So far four for four on incredible tracks.
‘Hit and Run’ is the slowest track on the album, feeling the closest thing to a pop ballad there is. It almost gives off The Police or Bryan Adams vibes at times, more of a soft rock track than a hard one. It’s still dark and brooding, but definitely has a more pop edge to it. Heck, it even has a guitar solo in it, and a damn good one at that!
‘Forget Me’ is another slower track but reminds me more of ‘Waking Light’ in its feel and execution. Then ‘Silence Screaming’ picks back up the heavy again. It’s another good early-Tool-esque main riff, and the more stripped-back verse instrumentation was awesome. It almost had RHCP vibes, but darker of course. There’s almost some grunge to the track too, both in some of the riffs and in the slightly Layne Staley vocals. All of the playing around with the riffs in the middle half of the track was also awesome. The talent of the band is off the charts.
The final three tracks are more great Empyre. There isn’t much different in them that hasn’t been done already on the album, but it is all still awesome music. ‘Quiet Commotion’ is one hell of a proggier track while ‘Your Whole Life Slows’ is one long, amazing build-up. It’s also the perfect closing track; in just over three minutes it draws everything from the album together into an epic conclusion of heavy riffs, quieter parts and some awesome vocals. Oh, and ‘Road to Nowhere’ was good, too!
Overall: What a fantastic album! Usually there’s at least a track or two that I feel I can skip over but all ten tracks on this were great. It’s such a concise album, everything feels so purposefully put together exactly how it is, and the result is one of the best albums so far this year. Yes, there are tracks that stand out above others, but honestly sit down somewhere dark and listen to this album from start to finish. You won’t be disappointed.
The Score: 9/10