I genuinely approach newer bands with some level of excitement. While I love the mainstays in various genres, it is always fun to hear new thoughts, ideas, and styles. I could tell that my interest in Empress’ sophomore album “Wait ‘til Night” would not be unfounded, and each single they have released revealed that more and more. The album releases on November 20th through Brilliant Emperor Records.
Empress comes to us from Gold Coast, Australia. Their country is becoming a hotbed for modern and interesting musical ideas. The band consists of Chloe Cox on vocals, synth, piano, Julian Currie and Jackson Tuchscherer on guitars, Shaun Allen on bass, and Ben Smith on drums.
I’m honestly having a difficult time locking down a good description of Empress’ music. They play something akin to a doom rock, complete with blackened atmospheres, indie influences, and post-metal concepts. Their sound is overall quite dark and even a bit Gothic, but they don’t resemble many bands that typically get that label.
One thing I can say, however, is that the band has a big sound, one that can feel comforting and draining at the same time. With steely guitars and Chloe’s melancholy vocals and harsh accents, the band can feel raw and poetic, shadowy and flowing. Once you step into their stark world, there is no going back. In that way, they might sound something akin to a doomy Bent Knee.
I think Chloe’s performance here needs a bit more attention. She doesn’t sound much like anyone else that I can think of, having immense control of both lower and higher ranges, but she chooses to stay low, dark, and haunting in tone most of the time. She offers some harsh vox now and then, and that certainly makes my blood freeze somewhat. She seems to match the emotions present as best as possible, instead of sacrificing those emotions for something more theatrical or insincere. In fact, even in the band photos, her blackened arms and blood red dress just make it seem like she is fully given to an emotive, lingering experience.
The album has eight songs, and all of them are excellent. Songs like “Golden Orb” and the title track have an extra sense of darkness and grittiness to them. They will awaken your senses immediately. Songs like “Scorpio Moon” and “Void-Shaped Void” have more drive and guitar to them. These are the moments where the weighty rhythm section really shines, too.
My favorites are “Back to the Ground”, “Where No Light Can Remain”, and “I Let You In”. I seem to prefer their more abstract, hovering style, as all three of these songs are unnervingly atmospheric and lyrically poignant. “Back to the Ground” offers a muted howling atmosphere that maintains itself through the entire song, and I love Chloe’s dark musings here. “Where No Light Can Remain” dives even more deeply into the inky black hole of emotion with an atmosphere that threatens to swallow you whole. “I Let You In” ends the record with a good mix of ambience and chaotic rock, a balance that makes it feel like a roller coaster of suspended sensations and wordless passions. I love it.
“Wait ‘til Night” isn’t going to give you technical theatrics, magnificent climaxes, or bright melodies. Instead, it dredges itself into the mire of murky human feelings, chaos made real through rock instrumentation, and a nameless, disquieting vocal performance. Empress absolutely nails the ambience and tone to the point that the end of the album feels simultaneously brilliant and relieving. If you have guts, I bid you enter this gloomy void.
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