Written by: MN on 30/09/2014 14:12:57

Heavy metal has always retained a special spot in my heart, but in recent times I have been getting more and more interested in rock bands that have caught my attention by their seamless songwriting skills where both instrumentation and lyricism take front seat. Often with a lot of the heavy metal I listen to, it is the expression of vocals rather than the actual themes revolved around it that capture my attention, this of course also has a varied line of exceptions. My most recent discovery is that of Empires, an indie rock band from Chicago, Illinois, who randomly caught my attention at a radio station. Ever since, I have spun their recent record "Orphan" to oblivion and feel inclined to share this grand discovery with the rest of you. Having started off being more of a garage rock band with indie and pop sensibilities in their second record "Garage Hymns", the quartet have shifted the tables and now present a more stadium-sized sound with epic choruses, more electronic elements and a much more wide appeal. Vocalist Sean Van Vleet sings in a variety of styles that is reminiscent of Dave Gahan, Brian Fallon and at times Eddie Vedder. All three of them great songwriters, Sean Van Vleet also provides some thought-provoking vocals with sincerity.

The opening track "Silverfire" has a goth-rock style but with an invigorating sound which is further enhanced in the following track "Orphans", which is one of the more phenomenal tracks which combine electronic inputs, big rock theatricalities and contemporary pop, which firmly plants Empires' sound in the music of today, but with nostalgic glances back to the 80's and 90's. "Hostage" is another example of Van Vleet's commendable lyricism as he croons out "Hope there's a heaven in the chemicals, an angel in the alcohol is burned alive, You reach your high, at least for now you're innocent, I'm just telling everyone you came". "Shadowfaux" brings more use of delays, refrains and is more poppy version of Empires. "Honeyblood" is a bass-driven track that again toys a lot with goth rock a la The Cure and with the chops common to The Cult.

"Lifers" is a very slow but moving track that reunites serene idyl with the unsettling sounds ever so present in bands like The Mission. "How Good Does It Feel" brings back the energy to full-throttle with some punk sensibilities as the chorus retains an optimistic tone, and the bass and guitar sound is distortion fuelled. The last two tracks "Glow" and "Journey Kid" seal the album nicely and thus leave the listener satisfied. I listened a lot to Empires and I can only conclude that they definitely succeeded with this release, it is well produced indie rock in an immaculate expression.


Download: Orphan, Journey Kid, Hostage
For The Fans Of: The Wombats, The Mission, The National
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 24.09.2014
Chop Shop Records

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