Alright!! I’ve waited long enough and it is time for the Amps and Green Screens review of WHITE EMPRESS and their debut album Rise of the Empress (out now, Peaceville Records). For those of you with heads STILL in the sand, I’ll break it down for you one last time: Paul Allender (yis, THAT Paul Allender) has come up with a concept that is truly unique. So unique in fact, that in my interviews with all six band members no one had the exact same way to describe the WHITE EMPRESS when asked about her. That’s right; this is more than just a band. It is so much more than that, visually, musically, artistically, and stylistically. Comprised of powerhouse vocalist Mary Zimmer, Allender and Jeremy Kohnmann on guitars, Will Graney on the keys, Zac Morris pounding the skins, and last but not least my favorite bassist from the Great White North, Chela Rhea Harper, this group is here to do one thing and one thing only: FUCK YOUR WORLD UP.
After the twisted title track intro the band wastes no time getting down to business with “The Congregation”, Mary’s growls ready to make a meal of anyone and everyone in her way. “A Prisoner Unleashed” sets up the metal meat grinder with jabbing riffs and uppercut refrains. Graney really does a superb job of using his synth to accentuate the moods of these songs and not overplay his hand. You can really feel how important they are on “Darkness Encroaching” which is the song WHITE EMPRESS shines the brightest on. Morris is clearly out for blood, Kohnmann and Allender can’t be stopped and Chela’s bass is like a thoroughbred kicking you in the chest over and over. I have long admired her tone and style of play and it is on full display here, making this the runaway favorite on the record.
A potent cocktail of black and symphonic metal, that’s “Sven’s Tower”. With extreme viciousness rivaling a junkyard dog that hasn’t been fed in two days this shows yet another facet of this band, especially when Mary unleashes those ethereal clean vocals of hers. “Erased and Rewritten” was another favorite due to its speed and those fucking riffs, and “The Ecstatic and the Sorrow” goes from brutalizing to catchy as hell on the choruses. I’m as surprised as you, but it works out! Speaking of, is that a bit of a new wave sound buried under the heaviness of “Dethroned”? I think it is! The gothic undertones of “Obsession With the Empress” weren’t lost on me either. This is some SISTERS OF MERCY level shit, guys, albeit heavier.
Bringing WHITE EMPRESS’ victorious first battle to a close is “Ours to Burn” which blends the keys and programming with more gut-punching riffs and rapid-fire drums in case you weren’t sufficiently worked over the first time. In Rise of the Empress these six world-class players have created something that harnesses the ferocity of extreme metal while adding symphonic elements that wrap around the songs and only enhance the listening experience. Make no mistake, WHITE EMPRESS are here to stay.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM