|Empire: Trading Souls|
|2003, Lion Music, LMC 074|
Trading Souls is a progressive hard / metal rock effort from European hard-rocking group Empire. Empire features the vocals of Tony Martin, axe work of Rolf Munkes, veteran keys of Don Airey, Neil Murran on bass, Gerald Kloos on the skins, and special appearances on drums from Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, Anders Johansson.
Empire sets out to lay down some original hard rock tracks in the radio format fashioned in the style of rock giants of the likes of the Scorpions, Guns-N-Roses, and Extreme. The songs are primarily vocal tracks in the standard rock radio format with Rolf Munkes stepping up to center stage for some intensive lead work in the solo sections of the format. The quality of the music and the production on this effort are indicative of the veteran lineup that comprises Empire.
For fans of electric lead guitar, Munkes is a capable player and demonstrates his chops and polish on this effort. Munkes delivers some meaty fretwork in his solos that spices up the tracks with some speedy shredding, patterns, and singeing melody lines fashioned in the fine metal tradition of the likes of the European Shenker brothers. However, I personally would like to see more intensive lead sections that better showcases the dormant talent that seems to be sleeping in the group. It seems a little too toned down and commercialized for the style of music that it is. Maybe stretching out some of the solo sections to the extent that hard rock pioneers like Deep Purple did with tracks like "Highway Star" would give this album and group a little more octane to get the engine really roaring. But, for the format that it is, Martin's vocals are solid and the supporting instrumentation is refined in its voicing of the accessible, catchy arrangements the group sets down.
Targeted for radio air time, this effort would be an improvement over the feather-weight music that has come to dominate the radio waves in recent years, making a return to the music with some vitality, energy, and a pulse. Fans of hard rock and straight-laced, radio-format metal may want to check out this release from European metal guitar star, Rolf Munkes, and company.
|~ Christopher Ruel ~ www.ChrisRuel.com ~ Chris@ChrisRuel.com ~ November 2003|
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