I love a band which can take 4 or 5 genres, throw them into pot, mix them together and release upon the world an album that sounds and feels like it truly belongs to each genre, yet to none at all. Empress do this with ease on their latest release Reminiscence, taking doom, sludge, black metal, post-metal and stoner rock and crafting something wholesome and bountiful for their punters. With the first track sounding very much like LO!, the band throws hard hitting sludgy doom in your face before moving onto a slow doom groove that has you swaying back and forth rhythmically.
Ripping onto the scene from Vancouver in British Columbia, this Canadian trio have released a debut in Reminiscence which is ideal for people wanting contrast between their heavy, hard hitting tracks, and experimental, almost feel-good metal songs. Empress‘ dabbling into black metal towards the second half of “Immer” is a perfect example of how they blend genres with ease, moving from a stoner rock anthem into a light black metal climax, which peaks perfectly and with grace, akin to something from Astronoid.
The guitars on this album are one of its best features, emitting a really well rounded sound like Elder‘s, with a punchy, raw and distorted bass that manages to stay tight. The bass from Brenden Glum is furious, opening up both the tracks “Baptizer” and “They Speak Like Trees” in a similar way to DVNE‘s storming album from 2017, Asheran. The mix was deftly executed on the guitars in the album, giving them the most prominence in the auditory experience. In “They Speak Like Trees”, the guitars play a major role in the large sweeping instrumental section that makes up most of the song. I particularly enjoyed the effects used as the riffs change up, along with the fuzzy warmth they bestow upon the listener at the climaxes of these songs.
Looking back at “The Offering”, this track lives up to its name, offering your aural cavities up for sacrifice. The relentless vocals, thundering drums and chaotic guitars undulate with raw fury and aggression, leaving the listener in a state of shock and awe. The guitar and bass grooves are wonderful in this song, each doused in fuzz yet with a sharp bite to each chord. “Immer” is my second favourite track of the album after “The Offering” – it transitions from a bouncy, hard hitting groove into some encapsulating black metal. The way the climax gains and explodes in the listener’s ear is brilliant, and whilst I’m not a black metal connoisseur, I certainly want to be now.
With the EP totaling 29 minutes, this release leaves you wanting more, but it was nice to have 2 of the tracks spiraling out to over 8 minutes each. In these beasts, you get a real glimpse of what the band are capable of achieving in their coming years, with the soundscapes of Elder and Mastodon especially present in “The Speak Like Trees”.
Whilst I enjoyed the mixing of the guitars, I did find the drums quite flat and dull at times, especially the cymbals. In this vein, I loved “Immer”, but I felt the track would’ve been more powerful with more present drums. But hey – it’s subjective and those who like a rawer sound will enjoy this album. For a debut, this is damn impressive, from the riptide of “The Offering” to the classical sounding outro of “Dawn”. Empress have created an offering of their own which will get your head banging or your foot tapping.
Notable Tracks: “The Offering”; “Immer”; “They Speak Like Trees”
FFO: Elder, Mastodon, DVNE, LO!