Empires End Record Review!

Empires End is wasting no time. The Kearney rock/metal quartet was just founded in mid-2014, hit the studio for the first time in February of 2015, and has their self-titled debut record coming out at the end of next month.

We interviewed singer Chad Biggs last year as part of our Stormfest Files series, check it out here.

Empires End music is based on a foundation of the hard rock genre, and then builds on that with tastes of various metal genres. Chad Biggs’ voice is gristly, but melodic, and the music can be heavy, but it never gets extreme.

This six-track debut record kicks off with “Broken Man,” a mid-tempo rocker featuring a lilting verse riff that gives way to a rat-a-tat chorus. About two-thirds of the way through the song, it kicks into a higher gear, and finishes on a fist-pumping mosh beat. With the big shift up, and a sprinkling of guitar noises to add to the production value, “Broken Man” sets themes for the rest of the record.

The second track, “Undone,” is driving and heavy, in a modern hard rock kind of way. There’s a big “gasp” moment each time the song steps up to the chorus, making the hook really stand out. This production technique is well-executed by producer Michael Beck, who has worked with a TON of bands at all levels, but locally has worked with Slantpiece, Johnny Legion, The Clincher and more, read more about him here.

In the third slot is “Wasted Words.” This one is definitely on the heavier end of the Empires End spectrum, featuring throaty vocals in the verse, while still opening up and getting melodic on the choruses. Although this song contains many of the same ingredients as the other songs on this record, it doesn’t feel quite as polished or well-crafted as the others.

After the thrash-inspired riffing of “Wasted Words,” EE cools us down with the arpeggiated, clean guitar intro of “One Day.” But it’s just a quick palate cleanser, and then the band is back into their hooky, driving brand of hard rock. “One Day” does include a lot of guitar overdubs, which make it a pleasure to listen to.

The penultimate track, “I, Alive,” starts off with a big, simple, feel-good riff. There are holes in all the right places, and it really gets your head bobbing. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard those well-placed “hey-ho”-style gang vocals in the choruses. The songwriting and arrangement of this song are very well done.

Closing out the album is “Rising.” The defining feature of this track is the absolutely epic launch into the chorus, just as you’re getting settled into a double kick pattern at the end of a verse, the bottom drops out from the song and you are released into a nearly dreamy chorus. This is my favorite moment on the record. This song also features some tight riffing, and Empires End makes you gasp one last time for the last note of the record. Check out the lyric video below to see what I mean.

Empires End is releasing this beast on February 27th at Nick’s on the Bricks in Kearney. Joining them in the celebration will be Slantpiece and TenDead. With this lineup, this is sure to be a hard-rockin, hard-drinkin’, headbanging kind of night! RSVP here.

But don’t take my word for it…

…get out and pay some cover charges!

–Damascus Wootz