Album review: EMPIRE – Hypnotica (+3)

Pride & Joy Music [Release date 24.02.17]

Pride & Joy Music are set to re-release Empire’s four albums throughout 2017 and start off with the band’s debut album ‘Hypnotica’, originally released back in 2001. Empire were formed by guitarist Rolf Munkes (Majesty/Razorback/Crematory) and on this album he was joined by vocalist Mark Boals (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen/Ring Of Fire) and Lance King (ex-Balance Of Power), bassist Neil Murray (ex-Whitesnake/Black Sabbath),  drummers Gerald Klos and  Anders Johansson (ex-Stratovarius) and on keyboards Deep Purple’s Don Airey.

Lance King handles the vocals on the majority of the songs, with highlights including ‘You’re All That I Am Looking For’, sounding like prime time Triumph and it has a big, sing-a-long chorus. ‘Bad Bad Boy’ rocks like a good ‘un, with a suitably fast and furious solo from Rolf Munkes. Speaking of Munkes playing, he gets a chance to shine on the instrumental ’A Different Sign’.

Mark Boals adds a little more metal to the proceedings on ‘Into The Light’, a fast paced rioff driven tune. Shades of Europe on ‘Spread Your Wings’, with its harmony filled chorus and listen out for the tasty Hammond playing of Don Airey on this one.

This re-issue adds three bonus songs, namely ‘Dogtown Shuffle’ which is okay nothing special, however the instrumental ‘Take A Look Around’ and the acoustic version of ‘Spread Your Wings’ are well worth hearing.

If you missed out on this album first time around grab a copy of this re-issue, an enjoyable mix of melodic hard rock and metal. All four of Empire’s albums are worth owning, more so now with these added bonus songs on each re-issue. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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