HYPE! It’s a funny old thing. One band who’s not lacking it right now is Empress. We sent Hugh Platt along to the Barfly to see if it’s justified.
Six things we learned when we saw Empress in Camden:
1) You know those bands you sometimes see playing live who you think might have some spark in them, but they’ve just rushed into the spotlight a bit too early and would be better off if they’d stayed in the rehearsal room a bit longer before seeking out a stage? Out Like Wolves are that band.
2) Hype is a funny old thing. The Barfly is plenty full of movers’n’shakers from all levels of the music industry tonight. Lots of sage nodding going on near the bar. Forget about guys who do that. Guys that hang around up at the back nodding sagely are dicks. Empress on the other hand, are playing their first ever headline show with an almost endearing mix of nervousness and confidence in their abilities. The four guys on stage couldn’t care less that some guy who thinks he’s a bigwig is standing at the back nodding.
Listen to ‘Left In Awe’ by Empress:
3) And yeah, what with Empress being relatively green when it comes to playing live, tonight isn’t perfect (there are a handful of micro-sized vocal wobbles from frontman Ollie Loring, but nothing you’d call gig-smashing), but hot damn is it impressive for a bunch of guys with so few shows under their belt. The refreshing lack of reliance on distortion to provide heaviness (instead Empress bring it out by segueing big fat guitar moments up against the kind of swirling melodic passages that make us think of The Incident by Porcupine Tree. This is a good thing.)
4) Even though tonight’s set is brief – the Barfly squeezing every last £ they can get out of a Wednesday night by having not one but two entirely separate events taking place consecutively in their gig-space – we found ourselves running out of fingers to count the number of bands-we-like-who-Empress-clearly-like-and-incorporate-the-influence-of-into-their-sound-without-ever-sounding-like-they’re-ripping-them-off. Sometimes it was a bit Mastodon circa-Crack The Skye, sometimes it was a bit like Anathema circa-We’re Here Because We’re Here. These are also good things.
5) The only “official” release for Empress so far is their double-A side of ‘Left In Awe’ and ‘Nostalgia’. So it’s little wonder that the two tracks are the clear highlights of Empress’ brief set tonight. ‘Left In Awe’ in particular seems to have taken crib-notes from recent Opeth and old-skool Deftones, providing both a bullish and expressive end to their 35 minute set.
6) And That’s why we booked them for the third ever Thrash Hits Presents show next month. Get down to the OBL early doors on 30 November 2012 and see what we’re talking about.
Empress will be playing the third Thrash Hits Presents…night at The Old Blue Last on 30 November 2012. Tickets are a mere £4 in advance and in addition to Empress, you get to see Cult Cinema, Throne, and the headline attraction, those young scamps History Of The Hawk. Don’t be “that guy” who doesn’t buy a tickets and then stays at home and complains that there’s no-one to go out with that Friday because they’re all at the OBL having fun at our gig. You know – that guy.