Album Review – Empress / Fateweaver (2022)

This up-and-coming Symphonic Metal five-piece outfit from Philadelphia is well on their way to conquering the big stages and setting people’s minds ablaze to the sound of their striking debut album.

An up-and-coming five-piece act from Philadelphia, in the United States, centered around classically-trained singer Barbara Blackthorne and main songwriting, mastermind and guitarist Vlad Khavin, Symphonic Metal outfit Empress is well on their way to conquering the big stages and setting people’s minds ablaze with kaleidoscopic arrangements, and their brand new album Fateweaver is the perfect way to kick-off their path to success showcasing their unique take on Symphonic Metal while they effortlessly transition between a variety of powerful tunes. Mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö at Unisound Studios, produced and engineered by the aforementioned Vlad Khavin, and displaying a classy artwork by Nguyen Hieu, Fateweaver will fully captivate your senses thanks to the amazing job done by Barbara and Vlad alongside their bandmates Joseph Muir on the guitars, Nicholas Bonsanto on bass and Mark Stainthorpe on drums, asking you if you’re bound by fate or bound to control it, as they navigate the overarching theme of destiny through the tales of the individual characters on each song.

Whimsical keys ignite the symphonic, epic title-track entitled Legion, with Mark dictating the pace with his heavy beats before Barbara arrives like a Valkyrie from the sky and stuns us all with her operatic vocals, and the guitars by Vlad and Joseph reverberate in the air in the also imposing Beyond the Sleep, with all background elements adding an extra touch of magic to the overall result. Then a sinister, somber start evolves into a multi-layered feast of Symphonic Power Metal titled Chimera, also presenting tons of progressiveness and electricity while Barbara is flawless on vocals supported by the pounding drums by Mark; whereas they don’t waste a single second and continue their musical adventure in The Fall of Kingdoms, with Vlad and Joseph being on absolute fire with both their riffs and solos, followed by Black Arcana, very rhythmic, epic and dense from start to finish, with Barbara’s soaring vocals being a thing of beauty while Nicholas and Mark generate a rumbling atmosphere with their respective bass and drums.

Monarch is another dynamic and ethereal display of Symphonic Metal by those talented musicians where the riffage by the band’s guitar duo beautifully clashes with the song’s  background keys, while there are moments of sheer progressiveness that remind me of Opeth and Dream Theater. In the electrifying Into the Grey, the unstoppable Barbara gorgeously declaims the song’s words (“The coming storm brings a change / The eye of fate shifts its gaze / The sky will show the way to rend fear from my heart”) while her bandmates make sure we’re transported into a world of magic and epicness to the sound of their undisputed Symphonic and Melodic Metal; whereas Immortelle sounds clearly inspired by classic Nightwish and Epica, offering our ears another round of their piercing sounds albeit a bit generic if compared to the rest of the album. And last but not least, closing such powerful album we have the seven-minute symphony Eventide, where Barbara showcases all her vocal range and potency and where all elements are in the right place, elevating the song’s punch to a whole new level and resulting in a climatic ending for admirers of the genre.

You can get to know more about Empress, their music, plans for the future, tour dates and so on by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, stay up to date with their new songs and videos by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming their music on Spotify, and show your utmost support to those hard working American metallers by purchasing a copy of their new album from their own webstore or from their BandCamp page, or simply by clicking HERE or HERE to select your favorite version of the album or to stream it in full. What do you say? Are you bound by fate or bound to control it? If you don’t know the answer to that, let Empress help you to the sound of their striking debut album, allowing their stylish Symphonic Metal to penetrate deep inside your mind and soul.

Best moments of the album: Legion, Chimera and Into the Grey.

Worst moments of the album: Immortelle.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Legion 4:20
2. Beyond the Sleep 4:34
3. Chimera 7:11
4. The Fall of Kingdoms 5:40
5. Black Arcana 4:38
6. Monarch 5:35
7. Into the Grey 4:00
8. Immortelle 4:53
9. Eventide 6:54

Band members
Barbara Blackthorne – vocals
Vlad Khavin – guitars
Joseph Muir – guitars
Nicholas Bonsanto – bass
Mark Stainthorpe – drums

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