Empire - Trading Souls

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Lion Music
Catalog Number: LMC074
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:52:00

Trading Souls is the second release by Rolf Munkes' (ex-Vanize) new band Empire. The basis of this band are Rolf Munkes (guitar) and Gerald Kloos (drums), but Neil Murray (ex-Whitesnake, ex-Black Sabbath, bass) and Don Airey (ex-Deep Purple, ex-Rainbow, keyboards) have played on both albums, while singer Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath) appears for the first time. Another familiar name is drummer Anders Johansson (Hammerfall), who plays on two songs. It is an impressive line up and so my expectations are quite high for this album.

Unfortunately the album did not live up to my expectations, as I find it a pretty standard rock album in the vein of Bon Jovi. Never over the top, never really heavy and no cool solos, with the exception of a few guitar solos. A shame, as Tony Martin has an incredible voice, but the songs on Trading Souls do not give him the room to really use his vocal range. The first time I heard Martin was on Black Sabbath's TYR and I was really impressed with him, but here I am a bit disappointed. Not that Trading Souls is a bad album; on the contrary, it is a good album with some excellent musicians, but the album does not rise above an average AOR album, at least not the first half. The second half of the album gets a little better, it rocks more with a heavier riff and the vocals improve also. "Wherever You Go" is one of the best songs, with Martin at his best and Munkes gives us some crunchy riffs. "Did You Ever Love Me" is a real rock ballad and sounds very good and the same goes for "Comin' Home," which rocks again, with a great guitar solo in it.

Trading Souls has a good production and nice songs, but it misses the edge and stays on an average level, which is a real shame as these are excellent musicians and I am sure they can do much better. Still, it is a pleasure to hear Tony Martin sing, so this might be a reason to get the album. The artwork is nice, with a reference to Roger Dean, who is responsible for a lot of artwork for Yes. If there will be a third Empire album, let's hope the keyboards gets more room than on this one, as the keyboards were hardly there and no keyboard solos at all.

Similar bands: Bon Jovi, Helloïse

[This review originally appeared April 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
One In A Million / Pay Back Time / Teenage Deadhead / Big World, Little Man / You / Perfect Singularity / Wherever You Go / Did You Ever Love Me? / Comin' Home / Back In The Light

Tony Martin - vocals
Gerald Kloos - drums
Rolf Munkes - guitars
Don Airey - keyboards
Neil Murray - bass
Anders Johansson - drums (3, 7)

Hypnotica (2001)
Trading Souls (2003)

Genre: Melodic Rock-AOR

Origin VA

Added: December 18th 2004
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1142
Language: english


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