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EMPIRE ‘Hypnotica’ (Lion Music ) (2004)

This is re-release as this album original surfaced back in 2001 - hardly ages ago I know but after the success of the last Empire album, the excellent ‘Trading Souls’, this debut gets another chance. Empire is the brainchild of Rolf Munkes and on this album he uses two vocalists - Lance King (Balance of Power/Mattsson) and Mark Boals (Malmsteen/Ring of Fire). If these two top vocalists don’t grab your eye then add Deep Purple’s Don Airey (keyboards), Hammerfall’s drummer Anders Johansson and bass player Neil Murray (Whitesnake/Black Sabbath/Gary Moore).

So with that line-up you’d have high expectations and luckily that is the case. ‘Fool In Love’ is a rousing hard rock anthem played at speed and ‘Into The Light’ features some stunning guitar runs. Having Lance King and Mark Boals on the same album is a real treat and thanks to a clear production their vocals shine clearly above the musical mix. The riffing on ‘I Will Always Be There’ makes for a classic hard rocker but you get some songs to allow to draw breath like ‘Spread My Wings’ - very classic Europe in sound.

If you missed this album first time don’t miss it again and whilst your at it get ‘Trading Souls’ as well that features Tony Martin (Black Sabbath) as sole vocalist. Essential for lovers of quality hard rock and fans of the two vocalists.


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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