Album Review: Empyre – Self Aware

I’ve been sat on this album for a while as the school term wound to an end and I didn’t have the time to rattle words off that would do it justice. Now as we’re less than a week before it’s July 5th release, it’s about time I stopped being selfish and told you about Self Aware. 

Empyre are a band we’ve been fortunate enough to have known for some years, since they played our stage at Wildfire Festival not once but twice in the same weekend… and drew an enthusiastic crowd both times. Their hard-rocking, blues-influenced tones instantly pull an audience in, and the depth of the songs holds the attention. Self Aware is their debut album and includes all the tracks from their earlier EPs as well as another EP’s-worth of new stuff.

As such, those who know the band will know what to expect. The new songs fit in perfectly with their sound and if you didn’t know that effectively the album spans several years of songwriting, you honestly couldn’t tell. Most of the newer numbers frontload the album, kicking off with “My Bad’s” gentle introduction and Henrik’s gravelly tones. By the time you hit the chorus you’d swear the band were channeling Alter Bridge. “Stone” similarly starts with a laid back feel, but leads into an angst-filled chorus where the band go for the “less is more” philosophy… and it works.

“New Republic” goes more for the down-tuned, head-bopping angle and a cracking bass line courtesy of Grant Hockley which rumbles throughout, nice and high in the mix. “Too Close” manages to merge the heavy and the emotional tones, and “Too Little, Too Late” (which is placed much later into the album) arguably throws a bit of funk and swagger out there.

Of course, we have the six songs the band released earlier including the brilliant “Drive” which out-Southern rocks most southern rock bands.

It would be unfair to say that Empyre have released a “mainstream rock” album as although it will certainly appeal to fans of that genre, it just doesn’t get across how gritty, hook-filled and emotive the whole package is. If you like the idea of Black Stone Cherry writing an album with Mark Tremonti’s help then here’s a “what might have been” for you.

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