Empire - The Raven Rides,
Empire was a project initially put together by guitarist Rolf Munkes (Majesty) with musicians such as Neil Murray (Whitesnake etc.), Mark Boals and Don Airey. By the second album Tony Martin had joined his ex-Sabbath colleague Murray and in 2006 they returned with the third, with Rolf, Tony and Neil being joined by drummer Andre Hilgers (Axxis, Silent Edge). Originally released on Metal Heaven I know I reviewed it back then as I remembered the cover, but had no recollection of the music. A quick search through my records and I discovered that I had been quite disparaging about it the first time around, thinking that the music had been heavily influenced by late Eighties Sabbath and that although good, there wasn’t anything new and dramatically exciting about it.
But, with fresh ears (just a lot older), I settled back to give the album a fresh chance. A couple of plays later and I found myself agreeing with my comments of all those years ago. Each song on its own is interesting, and “Carbon Based Lifeform” is a standout (although I’m not sure that putting a slightly different and shorter version on the end as a “bonus” is justifiable), but I soon found myself thinking that I had accidentally put the music on repeat as the previous song was strangely reminiscent of the one I was now playing. Tony is solid throughout, providing great vocals, but given that I haven’t played this album much in the last eleven years I somehow don’t think I’m going to start now. Empire released one more album after this, which was released in 2007, but that was the end. Pride & Joy are releasing all four with some bonus material, and this one was Empire’s biggest seller at the time.