Empyre – Relentless: Album Review

Empyre – a brooding Hard Rock colossus – guaranteeing the future’s bright.

Release Date: 31st March 2023

Label: Kscope

Format: CD / digital / vinyl / red vinyl / limited CD digipack

Build an empire and we’ll surely grow… The words of Empyre, who’ve become part of an illustrious Kscope roster that currently boasts The Pineapple Thief and TesseracT. “A validation of us as songwriters,” says Henrik Steenholdt on the support of a major label. The band repays the faith by stepping up to the plate with confident aplomb.

Relentless is the latest stage in a story that began with their debut album Self Aware in 2019, earning Empyre acclaim in the media from  Classic Rock,  Kerrang! and Planet Rock. The lineup of singer and guitarist Henrik Steenholdt, Did Coles on lead guitar, bassist Grant Hockley and Elliot Bale on drums, recently added value in spades by touring with The Vintage Caravan and a run of singles (Hit And Run where you’d swear Andy Summers was guesting on guitarand the title track) has whetted the appetite for a set that combines hooks, melodies and a rare knack for building anthems to fill big spaces.

The choice of both the powerful title track and Hit And Run as lead tracks proves a wise move. Bearing all the hallmarks of gateway tracks – radio play with a mainstream bent ahoy – they guarantee what the old bootleggers used to call a trademark of quality. And, thankfully, Relentless isn’t one of those records where a trap is laid by singles that overwhelm only for the album that fail to live up to the promise.

Scratching beneath the surface of the singles reveals further riches beyond the rugged passion and seductive melodies. The might of Waking Light adds a dignity, reinforces their propensity for creating anthems instead of songs and gives a taste of the Empyre wall of sound. What Phil Spector might have come up with had he been gifted the Relentless tapes.

It’s not often that Rock bands are able to embellish their guitar, bass and drums with the sort of atmosphere that comes in the haunting – almost angelic – opening passage to Parasites. That philosophy of going beyond the horizon sees a set that doesn’t stand still. There’s a see-saw swing to Silence Screaming decorated with the rough and raw edges of guitar and an instrumental stomp sways to and from in Cry Wolf – progressive tendencies that resurface in the latter part of Quiet Commotions. And atop the funky chops that punctuate the hammering riffs on Road To Nowhere towards the back end of the album, there’s the reminder that Relentless is carried on an underlying vein of brooding intensity

You can certainly admire the humour of the self-deprecating side of a band who are as humble about their talent as they come, but with Relentless, Empyre are gonna have to face the fact that they’ve created a bit of a monster. On the way up? More likely already there. Gentlemen, go forth and prepare for stardom…

meanwhile…read Henrik’s Why I Love on Dizzy Mizz Lizzy here.

Here’s Hit & Run:

Empyre online: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

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