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December 2001
Released: 2001, Lion Music
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Rick

When I got this CD to review I really didn't have a clue who Empire were. The CD was totally new and I hadn't even gotten the first buzz about the band. Well now that I am acquainted with the band I a DAMN HAPPY that this CD was sent my way to review. Back in the 80s when I was a young metalhead I was one of those strange characters that listened to everything from hard rock to thrash and everything in between. I might have a Ratt cassette on then jump to some Slayer then back to Quiet Riot then to some Maiden then back to Testament. It didn't matter. It was all metal to me. Today, with revisionist thinking and metals walk down paths much darker and brutal many people would argue with these bands being metal. Well I never cared. I liked it all. Which brings me to why I like this Empire disc. Empire are a (according to their press release) an all star melodic hard rock super group. I will leave this to you to decide but they have created one disc of damn good hard rock. Empire features Lance King on vocals. King is the vocalist of Balance of Power who earlier this year released their latest album PERFECT BALANCE which is sure to land on many a metal top 10 of 2001 list. Lance is also the guiding force behind Nightmare records who themselves have a great stable of hard rock and metal bands. Joining him on bass is Neil Murray. Murray is one of metals legendary bass players have played with everyone from Black Sabbath, Whitesnake and Steve Vai to Eric Clapton, Sting and Jeff Beck. On guitar is German guitarist Rolf Munkes who has preformed solo and is now a member of Vanize. On Drums is Gerald Kloos. The lineup does not stop there. the band also has some great guests. Legendary vocalist in his own right Mark Boals of Yngwie Malmsteen fame adds his powerful pipes. Another well known name is metal , Don Airey adds keyboards to the disc. Don has played with Ozzy, Whitesnake and Rainbow. And last but not least, contributing drums is Yngwie Malmsteen alumni and current Hammerfall drummer Anders Johansson. With this lineup how could they go wrong?

After the obligatory intro the festivities kick into high gear with "Fool In Love" which is just a smoker of a track. This track is also basic unit on the CD which consists of King, Kloos, Munkes and Murray. "Into the Light" continues on with the up tempo material. This track sees Boals take over on vocals and Johansson get behind the drum kit. Munkes also handles bass on this track along with some shredding six string. These are 2 of the best tracks on the release and serve as a great introduction to what Empire is all about, kick ass melodic metal! "Spread My Wings" is a power ballad which features King on vocals but adds some great organ from Airey. In the past I have never been a huge fan of the organ but it just fits this song so perfectly that I can’t imagine the song without it. Other standout tracks include the melodic "Bad Bad Boy", the thumping "I Will Always Be There" with Boals on vocals and the mid tempo plodder "Back To Me".

Its about time someone made a CD like this. I am sick of hearing bands say that they are putting out a CD of good old hard rock only to get the disc and find out that their idea of hard rock is a cross between Nirvana and LL Cool J. Well this CD delivers. Hard Rock done 21st Century style.I have to say that I was impressed with Lance King. This is the second great release that he has been on this year. I already knew that Mark Boals was one of the best vocalists in metal but King has proven that he is the equal of Boals and a force to be reckoned with. If you are a fan of hard rock and melodic metal then Empire is a band that you should not miss.

Next review: » Empire - Chasing Shadows
Previous review: » Emphasis - Revival

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