With a name like Ancient Empire, one would expect something pretty epic. The song titles and album art all fall in line with that expectation, and the good news is that the music does too. This new American heavy metal band takes influence from legendary heavy metal/USPM juggernauts such as Isen Torr, Twisted Tower Dire, Manilla Road, and others. There are some pretty obvious melodies on this record (such as on the opener, “Shadow of the Cross”), but the majority of this record is about adrenaline-pumping riffs. Whether they are incredibly fast and punishing (“In The Killing Fields” and “Ghost Soldiers”) or mid-paced and stomping (“Wings of Steel”), these riffs are endless and incredibly catchy. The amazing thing about the riffs on “Ancient Empire” is that they’re actually pretty generic. There isn’t a lot of variation, and there certainly aren’t any riffs that are particularly unique, but they’re all so good that it doesn’t matter if they’re unoriginal.
While there doesn’t appear to be too much information about this band, there is a familiar face. On vocals is Joe Liszt, of Rocka Rollas and Shadowkiller fame. The latter band I did not find too enticing, but it’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Joe’s work in Rocka Rollas. Amazingly, his voice is even better suited to this style of metal than Rocka Rollas’. This is because Ancient Empire tends to have some less simplistic choruses and vocal melodies. Additionally, the fact that the band is always striving to sound epic really does justice to his voice.
From a production standpoint this album is pretty much perfect. The guitar tone is thick and makes chugging moments even heavier. The drum tones are centered on the bass drums. They are always pounding, and when used on some of the slower tracks such as “When Empires Fall”, the result is very impressive. The drums really help perpetuate the galloping feel that is so prominent in metal. This is most noticeable on “Valley of Slaughter”, but you’ll find charging rhythms on every song. There are 9 tracks on this album, and at 46 minutes, it’s hard to find a fault. There are a couple of weak tracks, but they aren’t bad; they just don’t stand out as much after finishing the record. While most bands tend to taper off in the middle, Ancient Empire actually gets better. “In The Killing Fields” is the speediest track, and also the catchiest. This song is followed up by two equally potent numbers, before the album is capped off with two epics.
“Ancient Empire” is the embodiment of what makes heavy metal great. It’s hard to see how any fans of bands like Judas Priest or Jag Panzer (just as a couple of examples) could dislike this record. While I was initially upset about the departure of Joe Liszt from Rocka Rollas, if this is what he’ll be doing instead, it seems like a more than fair tradeoff. Pick up “Ancient Empire” from Stormspell Records and take a journey back to the 80’s!
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"Wings of Steel"
"In The Killing Fields"
4.3/5 or 86%.
Written by Scott