For the last few years, New York-based Dead Empires has been releasing an increasing number of enticing audible appetizers. From their initial EP as a three-piece, to the recent digital arrival of their new song "Blackout", which sees them adding a second guitar player, they've displayed the ability to make a big sound without losing a melodic ear. They were kind enough to send me an advanced copy of their new album, Waiting In Waves, which will be hitting the streets a little later this year. After listening, I can safely say that if you haven't given this hard-hitting ensemble a chance yet, your time would be well spent getting acquainted with them.
I had the esteemed pleasure of seeing the group open for hard rock band, Return To Earth (feat. original Dillinger Escape Plan drummer, Chris Pennie), at The Saint in New Jersey a few years back. A three-piece at the time, I was amazed at how much music they managed to fill the club with, which even rivaled the seven-man band that followed them. Even more impressive about this event was the attendance of Guns N' Roses guitarist, Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal, who, in fact, mastered Dead Empires' first EP, Monuments.
"Hello To Oblivion" from the EP Monuments.
For those familiar with them, the difference between the band's past and present is, like a growing child, simply a refinement of who they are. For those new to the fold, Dead Empires is an instrumental endeavor, fluctuating between sledgehammer riffs and moments of light repose. One minute, an energetic groove grabs you by the collar, banging your head back and forth vigorously, and the next you're smoothly reclined into a comfortable jazzy interlude. An excellent example is the massively infectious single, "Blackout", which witnesses a wonderful cameo by another great New York-based band, Thank You Scientist. Whether it's the lounge-inspired elevator music there, the neck-hair tingling bridge in "Carl Weathered", or the back-and-forth between the rhythm guitars and drums on the title track, the new album delivers a taste for everyone who is willing to spare an ear. And seriously, if a song called "Getting Head From A Guillotine" doesn't raise a curious earbrow, I don't know what will.
Often, instrumental albums tend to bore me. I find myself yearning for a vocalist and inspirational, relatable lyrics to break up the monotony of what often is simply one guitar solo after another. That isn't the case with this album, which provides enough participation by all members of the band to not make me feel it is any one person's avenue for showboating. Every member leaves their mark, and it leaves me wanting more. Waiting In Waves is a fantastic first full length by a band who is striving to earn an audience. I'm proud to say they have my attention.
Rating: 4/5 Sharps
New single, "Blackout", from the upcoming album!