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Empress: Fateweaver

Fateweaver is the first full-length studio album by American symphonic and speed metal band Empress (def. a female imperial monarch) led by classically trained vocalist Barbara Blackthorne and guitarist and mastermind songwriter Vlad Khavin. To complete the five-piece band we have Mark Stainthorpe on drums, Nicholas Bonsanto on bass, and Joseph Muir on guitars.

The previously released (2019) single “Legion” opens the album at full speed symphonic power metal, with the galloping rhythmic section and the shredding guitars, all led by Blackthorne’s pristine and powerful voice, a mix of Sarah McLachlan, Amy Lee, and Simone Simons, but with a more technical use of her operatic range and higher pitch, wonderfully angelical and anthemic. “Beyond The Sleep” follows in the same vein and speed of the previous song, a little more melodic and intricate, with the presence of some growling vocals that are more on the theatrical side than the evil side, a good song that was also released as a single before the end of 2019.

“Chimera” kicks off with a haunting bass line that’s rapidly accompanied by mellow middle eastern sounding guitars at first, and then totally catapulted into power metal territory with some of the fastest drumming yet. This is the longest track of the album and one of my favorites, the two-guitar riffing and soloing are fabulous, as is her singing… (said a guy that’s not much into female singing) but Barbara is a fantastic vocalist… the tribal-like percussion in the mid-section of the song gives a different texture and almost undetectably shows how good they are mixing some styles without getting off the road. “The Fall of Kingdoms” does everything except lowering down the beat, new memorable melodies in the form of progressive metal but at full speed with great drumming by Stainthorpe who is on fire in this song. Vlad plays here one of the best and more memorable solos of the album, and I can picture a sea of metalheads raising their fists with force and emotion during a live presentation by the band. “Black Arcana” is a song that by my personal royal decree will be huge within their still building fan base, it has all the ingredients to be embraced and cherished through time, the powerful guitars, her angelic sounding voice smartly and briefly entangled with some more growling, the speed, and the memorable hook.

I haven’t been able to find who is responsible for the synths in this album so I will assume is either Barbara or Vlad, but they do play a huge role in the album, especially in creating the sinister atmosphere for another great song, “Monarch”, which also brings the best performance of Blackthorne on vocals, she rules her kingdom.

“Into The Grey” is the first song of the last three, to my ears the best segment of the album and maybe that’s because, in addition to all the great symphonic metal madness, the guitars have like an Iron Maiden flare, not too much, just enough to make these songs particularly more familiar sounding, nothing new under the sun but a very strong material indeed. In “Immortelle” her singing reaches spectacular levels of sound managing and tonality use, and the guitar work is amongst the best of the album. “Eventide” is my favorite song of the album, everything I expected when I first stumbled across symphonic metal, in the vein of all the big ones like Kamelot, Nightwish, and Within Temptation, the ascending anthemic vibe of the song grabs me and leaves me wanting more songs like this one, dual vocals, dual guitars, dual bass drums, dual goodness, dual everything. I leave this review humbly and genuinely impressed by a band that sounds great and by a singer that has an immense career ahead of her. Very enjoyable listen!

Track Listing:
  1. Legion (4:20)
  2. Beyond The Sleep (4:34)
  3. Chimera (7:11)
  4. The Fall of Kingdoms (5:40)
  5. Black Arcana (4:37)
  6. Monarch (5:35)
  7. Into The Grey (4:00)
  8. Immortelle (4:53)
  9. Eventide (6:55)

Added: August 10th 2022
Reviewer: Jose Antonio Marmol
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 248
Language: english

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