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EMPIRE ‘Trading Souls’ (Lion Music LMC074) (2003)

An interesting line-up here with main men and guitarist Rolf Munkes and drummer Gerald Kloos joined by vocalist Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath/The Cage), bass player Neil Murray (ex-Whitesnake/Brian May/Black Sabbath) and Deep Purple’s keyboard player Don Airey (ex-Whitesnake/Ozzy). A line-up with plenty of pedigree without a doubt! This is the band’s second album, the first having featured guest vocalists Lance King and Mark Boals.

The style of the album varies from the AOR of opener ‘One In A Million’ to the hard rock of ‘Pay Back Time’. ‘Teenage Deadhead’ takes a mellow path, which is very surprising given that Hammerfall’s drummer, Anders Johansson guests! The keyboard touches make the song coupled with a soulful vocal from Tony Martin, who seems to have gained in vocal power and range since his Sabbath days. Latter day Asia come to mind on the building epic ‘Did You Ever Love Me’, especially with the harmony vocal backing. ‘Back In The Light’ rocks along at a fair pace complete clean, crisp guitars. One or two tracks drag slightly, like ‘Big World, Little Man’ but they are still listenble!

A definite grower containing quality melodic hard rock, with Tony Martin putting in some sterling vocals. Hopefully this line-up will tour as so many of these project bands never see the live arena.


Review by Jason Ritchie

Label website

Album review

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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