New line-Up: Rolf Munkes (guitars), Tony Martin (vocals), Neil Murray (bass), Don Airey (keyboards), Gerald Kloos (drums), Anders Johansson (drums on 2 tracks)

Straightly after the release of the highly acclaimed 2001 debut album "Hypnotica" by EMPIRE who are centred around guitarist, producer & song-writer Rolf Munkes (ex-VANIZE), Rolf straightly began to work on songs for the follow-up album - again with the help of drummer and co-producer Gerald Kloos.

Because of the great drum work of Anders Johansson (HAMMERFALL) on selected tracks on "No More Obscurity" (the guitarist's solo-effort under the ROLF MUNKES banner) and EMPIRE´s "Hypnotica" it became obvious to invite him again to collaborate on "Hypnotica's" successor entitled "Trading Souls" on two tracks.

For "Trading Souls", Munkes made a well defined decision against any guest singers. This time he wanted to work with only one singer on the whole album as the debut had featured two - Mark Boals (ex-MALMSTEEN) and Lance King (ex-BALANCE OF POWER). Luckily, Rolf found one of the best: Tony Martin who recorded several albums with BLACK SABBATH and was a constant member of their line-up for several tours around the globe. After Tony and Rolf had finished the recordings of his vocal parts in Rolf's studio they were totally amazed by the results. Martin's impressive vocal range and flexibilty pushed every single song to a higher level. An extraordinary singer, without any doubt!

To complete the rhythm-section, Neil Murray (ex-WHITESNAKE) again entered Rolf's studio. Rolf says: "We had a really relaxed and funny recording session and a great time. Neil already played on the first Empire CD. It was my biggest wish to have him again playing on "Trading Souls". And he did!! He was as usual very pro, quick and great in doing his bass parts for the new CD."

Don Airey (ex-RAINBOW, DEEP PURPLE, SILVER) was heavily touring with DEEP PURPLE when Rolf asked him to play on "Trading Souls": "I remember that he was in Milwaukee that day. He told me he would have some days off between the USA and European parts of the tour where he would be able to record the stuff. So I sent him the songs to his studio where he recorded his parts."

The last recordings added were Rolf's guitars. To mix the CD, Rolf joined forces with Stefan Kaufmann (U.D.O.) and spent two weeks at Kaufmann's Roxx Studios near Cologne, Germany.

The result can be heard on "Trading Souls", a modern and great sounding hard rock album with songs performed by some of the world's most leading musicians.

Biography by Birgitt Schwanke