White Empress – Rise Of The Empress Review

Posted: October 13, 2014 in Music, News, Published News Related
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Rise Of The Empress

Peaceville (2014)

Rating: 9/10


White Empress is the new band featuring ex-Cradle Of Filth guitarist Paul Allender and Luna Mortis’ Mary Zimmer. The Minneapolis-based band is rounded out by bass player Chela Harper (Coal Chamber), guitarist Jeremy Kohnmann (The Awakening), keyboardist Will Graney (Damnation Angels) and drummer Zac Morris (whom has recently been seen behind the kit for Ugly Kid Joe).

White Empress borders on an underground style supergroup and Rise Of The Empress is ample evidence that these musicians come with a strong pedigree. The band burst forth from this debut album with a controlled chaos rarely exhibited in this style of music. Every piece of it is pointed and purposeful and, because of that, it achieves a distinct sound without cutting out the heart of what its members are best known for.

‘Darkness Encroaching’ is an example of just this; it beats you to blisters with a rhythmic baseball bat wrapped in a barbed wire of symphonic parts. ‘Obsession With The Empress (From Human To Divine)’ and ‘Rise Of The Empress’ take that black ‘n’ roll flavour Cradle Of Filth embraced on Nymphetamine (2004) and takes it up a notch. It just pounds a little harder than what you are expecting and Mary Zimmer shrieks and sings like a madwoman. Her seamless transition between vocal styles is startlingly actually. While I love Luna Mortis, White Empress appears to give her more opportunity to use a variety of vocal facets and she rises to the challenge wholeheartedly.

‘Sven’s Tower’ is another highlight. The loose keyboard work is a bit distracting but the punch of the guitars and the unrelenting and never still rhythm section work in strong tandem to make this song really stand out from the pack; it sounds like the soundtrack to a dark adventure. ‘A Prisoner Unleashed’ forces you to hear it above the others as well as Zimmer screams her way through you amid Allender’s familiar but somehow fresh guitar work.

It’s not all black roses here though. ‘The Congregation’ has some good ideas, but it’s so mashed together it kind of sounds like a clusterfuck. Its tempo constantly changes and the vocals can’t keep up. ‘Ours To Burn’ doesn’t gel well with me personally, either. Its fast pace sets a good tone but there’s a weird tempo change bridge and an EDM-style break that I like, although it just doesn’t seem to work as a whole unit very well. Even though those moments seem clunky, the theme of the empress is able to overcome their shortcomings and keep the album moving.

For those fearing that Paul Allender may have chosen a different musical path with this project, lay your fears to rest! Rise Of The Empress is a beast of an album and continues in the tradition of Allender’s work with his old band. White Empress’ sound is thicker and fangs longer than any of its members’ prior works. This is a powerful debut by a band that has the potential to seize the crown.

Mark Fisher (METAL FORCES)


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