EMPIRE – Hypnotica


Lion Music
Release Date: November 3, 2001

User Review
10/10 (1 vote)

At the onset, the intro “Hypnotica” sounds like a take off. The first riff on “Fool In Love” reminds you of Maiden but the vocals strangely bring Bon Jovi to mind. It sounds like the guitar and the drums are having a field day, and you even get the high-pitched scream at the end of the song … you know, the one Bon Jovi can’t reach anymore. “Into the Light” has traces of Dio in it before the chorus takes over and then Europe comes to mind. So what you get here is definitely a mix of 80’s Metal.

Time is a funny thing. Had this album come out in the 80’s, then this super group would have been praised by most, but now while listening to it, you find yourself scratching your head while wondering where you have heard that song before, and who reminds you of this band. It takes a couple of spins before you can stop thinking in the terms of reference points and be able to focus on the songs themselves. When you get to that point, you’ll be glad that you stuck it out long enough to realize these songs are filled with superb playing and quality vocals, and are also strong songs in their own right that more than deserve to be heard.

Empire is a studio project put together by a guitarist Rolf Munkes. The band has released 2 albums so far, and this is a re-release of their first album that was originally issued in 2001. The rest of the band on this first Empire album is made of Lance King on vocals (Balance of Power), Neil Murray on bass (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Gary Moore), and Gerald Kloos on drums. Guest appearances are made by Mark Boals on vocals (Yngwie Malmsteen), Anders Johansson on drums (Hammerfall, Yngwie Malmsteen), and Don Airey on keyboards(Black Sabbath, Deep Purple).

It’s obvious a guitarist wrote the songs since each of them are guitar orientated, and all of the soloing seems to enrich the songs and carry them forward. Mark Boals steals the spotlight during “Into The Light” and “I’ll Always Be There,” but Lance King gives a good fight on the rest of the tracks.

Once you get to the track “Here I Am,” you’ll forget that this is only a project since the songs are so strong and the performances sound like the players are really enjoying themselves. If this is what the “retired” members of the former Heavy Rock bands are capable of producing together then more of them should re-plug in their instruments and get active again! All they need are good songs and someone to do the legwork to assemble the groups like Munkes has successfully shown he can do here.

This re-release comes with 3 bonus tracks, with one unplugged version, one instrumental, and one extra conventional song.


  • Metal-Katie

    Katie was a reviewer and interviewer here at Metal Express Radio. She claims to have been born a Metalhead. At least she's been one as far as she can remember. She loves Metal music and she's ever so happy to see generation after another founding its charm. She's always interested in hearing new Metal bands and reading about them and their antics. She lives and breathes Metal, or at least her alter ego does.

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