An early 2018 review, and a true breath of fresh air boasting unexpected excellence; that’s the short version of the review for this EP, and whilst this may be more than sufficient were this a one inch column in the latest edition of Kerrapp (other tired and irrelevant once important magazines may also be available), this is Ave Noctum where music gets a decent and unbiased/sponsorship free crack of the whip, so more must be said. Firstly, let your humble scribe say I volunteered for review duty for this debut Empress release from Canada based on the fact that it had a membership connection to Seer, an act I’ve enjoyed in the past (see Ave Noctum reviews passim), and did no prior research or what is normally expected. My expectations, indeed, my own personal biases were pretty much blown away.
I am no real fan of the extreme, in fact if you’ve ever perused my ramblings, you’ll know I pretty much favour a musical form where vocals are rather more accessible. That is clearly not the case in opener ‘The Offering’, a pummelling wall of beats, riffs, and bass, all driving along a vocal delivery that would flip back the hood of Conan’s Jon Davis! Normally, I’d be reaching for the skip button by now, but such is the simple, indeed, brutal passion, that this old hippy found himself being drawn into the blazing, hypnotic riffs, and being carried along on a tsunami of sludge. ‘Immer’ follows, with complex riffs and inherent brutality interspersed with almost trippy vocals amongst the sonic assault sounding like Mastodon when they don’t mess up; harsh I know, but I’ve seen Mastodon live a good ten times, and those performances were equally split between “excellent prog/metal exploration” and “fucking mess!” The track even conspires to finish in a drawn out indie wall of sound that somehow sounded like Coldplay had managed to grow some hair on their balls! Yes, I appreciate that I just referenced those soulless constructs of Coldplay in an Ave Noctum review; get over it, the brutal assault of the sub three minute ‘Baptizer’ will erase any thoughts of those whinging public school arses from your mind!
Next up is ‘They Speak Like Trees’, and after the initial gentle intro, a combination of blasting riffs and cry of the damned vocals practically assault the listener from the speaker, complimenting a series of hypnotic riffs that Tool must wish they had prepared for their ever more delayed next album. After the bruising assault of the first four tracks, ‘Reminiscence’ chills out with the instrumental closer ‘Dawn’, a track ripped straight from the early electrical explorations of early seventies Pink Floyd.
I like to think I have a certain insight to the industry, but Empress have just blasted fully formed onto the scene with ‘Reminiscence’; everything about the sound made me expect not to enjoy it, but instead, the absolute energy and vitality of the band have make me hit the replay button time and time again. Take a punt and buy this album; that is all.