Empire CD's


Trading Souls
Digipak (CD)



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The second album of the supergroup of melodic hard rock: Tony Martin, Don Airey, Rolf Munkes, Neil Murray, Anders Johansson
Limited Edition collector's series 500 copies only!




Euro (Europe)


USD (North America, Asia)

South American customers will be charged 7.00 USD extra for registered mail.

The debut album of the supergroup of melodic hard rock: Lance King, Mark Boals, Rolf Munkes, Neil Murray, Anders Johansson

Band: Empire
Released: 2004
Our Rating: 7.5
Empire is an American Hardrock band formed in 2000. It's centred around guitarist, producer and song-writer Rolf Munkes (ex- Vanize).
They have released two albums so far, and this one's entitled "Hypnotica" is actually a re-release digipak with three bonus tracks.
Damn, this is what I call a deluxe team for this recording since it features Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath), Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring Of Fire), Lance King (Balance Of Fire, Mattsson), Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, Yngwie Malmsteen), Don Airey (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple) besides Gerald Kloos (Condition Red) and Rolf Munkes, the heart of the band.

What can you expect from a line-up like this anyway? Even though I'm not really an expert when it comes to Hardrock, it's always something that I can listen to without problems.
I started to enjoy the first tracks from this album quite well, songs like "Fool In Love" and "Into The Light" really impressed me, but as the music kept on going I started loosing interest. Probably because the songs started to get much slower and that's when I started thinking that some parts actually reminded me of Bon Jovi, so I wasn't very happy about it. Not that I have something against Bon Jovi, it's just not my thing.
But that doesn't mean that Empire don't have quality or anything, I would probably like to pick this album now and then to listen to a couple of tracks, specially those two I already mentioned, but I can't take much more of it. I'd probably enjoy this band much more if they mixed some Heavy/Progressive or Power Metal in their songs, but that's not what Empire are all about, and that's ok.

Nice Hardrock band from the USA, some catchy songs definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of this style. As for me, I'll remind Empire's "Hypnotica" due to songs like "Fool In Love" and "Into The Light", and that's the end of it.


1. Hypnotica
2. Fool In Love
3. Into The Light
4. You're All That I'm Looking For
5. Spread My Wings
6. Bad Bad Boy
7. Here I Am
8. I Will Always Be There
9. A Different Sign
10. Shelter
11. Back To Me
12. Another Place, Another Time
13. Take A Look Around
14. Dogtown Shuffle
15. Spread My Wings (Unplugged)

Crepusculo   www.metal-march.com

Back to Empire

Track By Track
1.) "One In A Million"-This track opens with a very haunting yet simple guitar riff.  The keyboard kicks in the verse with a very simple sounding seventies pattern.   Once Tony's vocal lines kick in it doesn't take long to hear why he is very underrated.  The drum and bass lock in, has a very heavy almost deafening effect to the listener.  I have not heard a drum sound this crisp since Audie Desbrow of Great White on "Once Bitten".  The bass line changes for the pre-chorus and chorus.  The backing harmonies of the chorus are very simple.  The little keyboard scales that are scattered out through the song have a Deep Purple sound to them.   There is a minor solo between the second verse and chorus then a major solo after the second chorus.     
2.) "Pay Back Time"- This track kicks off with a lead guitar rhythm.  The musical arrangement behind the verse is very simply structured.  The backing harmony sections of the choruses are just completely wild sounding.  I would really like to hear Empire pull this sound off live!!! Drum wise because of the bass drum pattern changes this track would make a great warm up song for any up and coming drummer. The band pulls back to the intro arrangement for the small bridge.  There is a second breakdown section with an acoustic guitar.  The solo in itself is not nearly as intense has it could have been for the song.
3.) "Teenage Deadhead"-This track opens with an acoustic guitar arrangement.   The drum arrangement has a very syncopated feel to it.  Vocally this track really shows Tony's talent has a vocalist.  The chorus of the song is very melodic with a huge hook within.  At time some of the accents the band uses on the backing harmonies has a very Jon and Ritchie from Bon Jovi feel to them.  The solo has that huge eighties ballad feel to it.  Tony's vocal lines are very laid back and sound great in front of the double bass drum pattern.  At times the song really does scream for a few Tony backing vocal overdubs.  There is a huge eighties feeling guitar solo.   The ending arrangement of the song really suits the song very well.
4.) "Big World, Little Man"-This track opens with a pretty standard eighties sounding intro.  The vocal lines of the verse have a pretty standard feel to them.   You can really hear a huge hook coming up during the pre-chorus.  And boy you are not wrong; the hook of the chorus is big enough to hook a great white on.  There is a small but very effective double bass drum pattern during the chorus.  At times through the bridge it sounds like the drummer is using a thinner snare than for the rest of the song.  The solo for the song has a very intense feel and sounds like it was done with a wah-wah effects pedal. .
5.) "You"-This track opens with a intro that would make George Lynch and Dokken proud.  The guitar arrangement of the song uses the same type guitar arrangements that made Lynch famous.  Vocally the lyric and vocal arrangements have a very Don Dokken influence.  The backing harmonies of the pre-chorus and chorus are very strong.  For the musical arrangement between the 1rst chorus and 2nd verse the band break time too a twelve note rhythm pattern for a couple bars.  Backing vocal wise this track has some of the best backing harmonies in a song I've ever heard.  During the second verse there is a small almost violin sounding section that follows along with the guitar riff.  The solo also has a very George Lynch effect to it, it just is not nearly as overblown has some of George's solo are.
6.) "Perfect Singularity"-This track is also one that opens with a very Dokken style sound.  Tony's vocal sound has a very haunting effect. The vocal lines of the verse are also overdubbed which makes the verse sound real thick.  The chorus is very short and melodic.  The song builds with intensity as it moves along.  The solo has a little abstract feel to it but it suits the song well. 
7.) "Wherever You Go"-This track kicks off with a standard hard hitting metal arrangement.  The vocal lines where done with a studio effect.  From right off the band lock into a stinking groove.  Between each pre-verse and verse there is a small lead scale.  The musical arrangement has a very intense feel to it, while the vocal lines are a little more on the melodic side; this makes for a strange but very cool mixture.  The vocal lines of the chorus have a very Don Dokken solo feel to them.   The solo at times was overdubbed and gives off a twin guitar solo effect.
8.) "Did You Ever Love Me"- This ballad opens with an acoustic guitar arrangement. The drummer chooses to use a wood block instead of snare that adds to the subtleness of the song.  The chorus has a huge backing harmony arrangement. The chorus arrangement also has a very huge hook within it.  Vocally this song is another one on this release that shows Tony's vocal ability.  The solo was overdubbed and gives off a twin guitar effect.   
9.) "Comin' Home"-This track opens with a very mean sounding musical arrangement.  The lyric lines are very reminiscent of a lot of late eighties metal.   At the end of the pre-verse there is a small backing harmony section.    Even through the song is very simply structured it would make a great encore song live.
10.) "Back In The Light"-This track opens with a very laid back guitar arrangement.  The vocal lines of the verse have several hooks within them.  The chorus is very laid back with huge backing harmonies.  Musically you really can't get much simpler than this, great song writing!!

     "Trading Souls" is Empires second release and even after carefully studying both releases side by side they are equally amazing!!! 
      Tony Martin is one of two of the only vocalist Black Sabbath ever had.  Without going into detail lets just say the other one is not Ozzy.    With Sabbath Tony had huge shoes to fill, that is without saying and I feel music fans never really gave him a chance.  Tony is and probably will always be underrated but if you ever had any doubt what kind of singer he is "Trading Souls" will do nothing but put you on the Tony Martin bandwagon.
       As far as the rest of the band Don Airey and Neil Murry's career should speak for itself.  Rolf Munkes is one of the most amazing guitars I believe I've ever heard in a very long time.  Drum wise, Anders where you when I was learning to play drums?  I really could have learned a lot!!!
        When you have a band where each member is equally has talented has the next it makes for a sweeter product because the individuals musicians in the band feed of that.  Every hard rock fan in the world needs this release it is a necessity.  And while your purchasing "Trading Souls" pick up a copy of  Empires freshman release also.
Blast Magazine Review

Empire - Trading Souls
May 2003 | Released: 2003, Lion | Rating: 4.0/5 | Reviewer: JP www.metal-rules.com

The first Empire was great. For more information check Rick’s excellent review. I was delighted to see that this all-star band is still going. I always worry when I hear super-group projects as often they do not have the stability or staying power due to other commitments. Fortunately this is not he case with Empire and by having two releases a band like Empire makes the jump from one-off, cool novelty to legitimacy as a separate band.
The big change in the line-up is the addition of Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath, ex-Misha Calvin, ex-Rondinelli, ex-Giuntini, and currently doing Cage, M3 and solo stuff) on vocals replacing Lance King and Mark Boals. Martin is more than a hired gun as he co-wrote every single song on the disc. The rest of the line-up is stable.
We have ten tracks of virtually flawless melodic hard rock. Smooth vocals with range and emotion, laid-back and competent performances of these veteran masters. This band gels very nicely and seems to avoid the disjointed feel of some all-star projects.
Lion Music affords the band the high quality treatment with a nice colorful booklet with photos, lots of computer generated images, lyrics, notes and so on and immaculate production by Rolf Munkes. The cover concept is kinda overused, naked flying humans, I must have a dozen album covers with something similar. The ten songs here are all radio-compatible with fairly conventional structure and arrangements and nothing too frantic in the delivery.
A complaint I have is the lack of lyrical originality. I’m sure these guys could do a little better. They have a track called ‘Comin’ Home’. That is so overused it is not funny, despite being a common, human sentiment. Just out of curiosity I did a quick search Rockdetector database (http://www.rockdetector.com) and found that there are over 75 other rock/metal bands with a song called ‘Comin’ Home’!
I really enjoy this album. It takes me back to a kinder, gentler time when rockin’ out was fun and laidback. Intense? No. Passionate and engaging for a fan of melodic metal? Most definitely. Visit Empire at http://www.empire-rock.com.


Empire - Trading Souls
May 2003 | Released: 2003, Lion Music | Rating: 3.5/5 | Reviewer: Pete www.metal-rules.com

Commercial melodic rock can be faceless sometimes, as in the fact that you can't tell one band from the next. This became a problem in the 80's with bands such as Europe, Hardline, and even Deep Purple (remember the SLAVES AND MASTERS album??) grasping for that coveted AOR hit. TRADING SOULS is the second release from Empire, and although at first listen it could fall in this category, I found that with repeated listens, it grew on me. Maybe its because I've been listening to too much of The Haunted and Overkill lately, I dunno?!

With recent addition of vocalist Tony Martin (of Black Sabbath fame) and keyboardist Don Airey (Rainbow / Ozzy Osbourne), Empire rounds out an all-star line-up including bassist Neil Murray (Whitesnake), drummer Gerald Kloos ,and guitarist Rolf Munkes. Fans of Sabbath's TYR and Joe Lynn Turner-era Rainbow material will enjoy the 10 tracks on this CD as Martin's voice is just as strong as ever. The CD opener "One In A Million" sets the pace of the CD with its straight time groove, and Airey's hammond organ gives it that Whitesnake / Purple feel. "Teenage Deadhead", one of the two ballads on the album, features a great solo from Munkes, while the CD closer, "Back In The Light", has a guitar riff and chorus that throws you back to 1986-87….kind deja-vu.

Killer production, great vocals and guitar playing, but no real rockers to be found. Of Note – this also includes Anders Johansson (Hammerfall drummer) as guest on two tracks.

A lot of famous names in the line-up, but Empire really is (ex-Vanize) Rolf Munkes' band. Straightly after the release of Empire's highly acclaimed debut album "Hypnotica" (Lion Music 2001), he and co-producer/drummer Gerald Kloos started writing songs for this follow-up album, again featuring musicians such as Anders Johansson from HammerFall (on two tracks) and Neil Murray (ex-Whitesnake). He/she who owns a copy of "Hypnotica" will remember that Rolf worked with two vocalists on that album, namely Mark Boals (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen) and Lance King (ex-Balance Of Power). This time he wanted to work with only one and he was lucky to find one of the best: no one else than Tony Martin, who recorded with Black Sabbath and released a brilliant solo album in 1992, called "Back Where I Belong". Tony co-wrote all of the ten songs on "Trading Souls" and performed them in a great way with his impressive voice. Also featured on this excellent melodic hard rock album is keyboarder Don Airey, who doesn't need an introduction anymore. He was heavily touring with Deep Purple when Rolf asked him, but between the American and European tours he kept a couple of days free to play the keyboard parts in his own typical way. With the songwriting talent of Munkes, Kloos and Martin and the excellent musicianship of all players involved, this album could only be very good at its least and that's exactly what it is. So, if you were looking for a classic melodic rock album, don't search further and buy this one on the spot. I believe this is one of the best albums Lion Music has released so far.
5/6   Rock Reort Magazine Belgium

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"Pay Back Time": A not overly heavy, but still powerful mid-tempo rocker
with a simple, instantly likable chorus. Another highlight is the song's
balladesque middle-part, carried by atmospheric keyboards and the virtuoso
guitar playing by Rolf Munkes.

"Teenage Deadhead": A dreamy and velvety soft half-ballad that thrives on
Tony Martin's emotional lead vocals and the perfectly tuned arrangements.
Keyboard maestro Don Airey adds some wonderful keyboards while Rolf Munkes
delivers one of the strongest guitar solos found on "Trading Souls".

"Big World, Little Man": A straight and very melodic old-school Hard Rock
song that gets its kicks from Tony Martin's powerful vocals and Don Airey's
perfectly staged Hammond organs. The song could have easily appeared on the
Misha Calvin album, "Evolution".

"Did You Ever Love Me": This killer ballad is the album's absolute
highlight! The song changes back and forth from soft, mainly acoustic verses
to an emotional, heavily erupting chorus! Tony Martin's lead vocals and Don
Airey's atmospheric keyboards sound like a million bucks and make it one of
the strongest Hard Rock ballads of 2003!

"Trading Souls" is the second album from the all-star project EMPIRE, lead
by German guitarist Rolf Munkes. The biggest change in comparison to the
critically acclaimed debut, "Hypnotica", is the addition of DEEP PURPLE
keyboardist Don Airey and world-class singer Tony Martin. The former BLACK
SABBATH frontman shines with another extra-ordinary vocal performance and
impresses his stamp on the 10 classic Melodic Hard Rock tracks featured on
"Trading Souls". Stylistically the album can be described best as a mixture
of BLACK SABBATH's "Tyr", Tony Martin's sadly underrated 1992 solo album,
"Back Where I Belong", and the "Evolution" album Tony Martin did with guitar
maestro Misha Calvin. Besides the outstanding lead vocals, the album
displays some good songwriting, Rolf Munkes' very song oriented guitar
playing, excellently tuned arrangements and a crisp, perfectly suiting
production. I have to admit that some songs take a couple of listens to come
to full shine but they all keep growing over time and at the end of the day
almost every song has that certain something that makes you love it.
Summarizing, EMPIRE have recorded a surprisingly strong Melodic Hard Rock
album that I in particular recommend to the numerous fans of Tony Martin. I
hope this EMPIRE line-up can be held together for a while as I am deeply
convinced it has the potential for an even stronger effort some day.

RATING:  88 %
PRESENTATION:  82 %   www.ontherocks.de


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Songs: 8,5/10 - Sound: 9/10 - All in All: 8,5/10


I have to admit that "Hypnotica", the debut album from Empire, rather passed me by. Not that I didn't get to hear it, but for some unknown reason I failed to pay it the attention it warranted. This was an error on my part for which I shall quickly have to make amends, since with "Trading Souls", their second album, Empire have both surprised and delighted, easily blowing me away. The band's line-up, reading as it does like a Who's Who of rock, features such luminaries as Neil Murray (ex-Whitesnake), Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath) and Don Airey (ex-Rainbow, Deep Purple and Silver), enough in itself to immediately arouse high expectations. These are not instantly fulfilled on first listen but give the disc time and a few spins and attention to the detail will gradually reap dividends, making this a high-class release. No beating about the bush, opener "One in a million" impresses from the off with its beautiful hook and superb keyboard passages. A real highlight.. "Pay back time" drills itself into your brain with its powerful driving refrain. Quite simply huge, a memorable song. With the gentle semi-balladic "Teenage deadhead", Empire also show that they have a more soulful side to their sound that has me drooling, a track that is only surpassed by "Did you ever love me" (leaning in the direction of ASIA-sounding territory) ! Crikey, what a song, worth the entry price alone! With production duties handled by Rolf Munkes and Stefan Kaufmann (U.D.O.) responsible for the mix, be assured that the sound on this CD is pure eargasm.... Ok, enough of my drivel, now just lend an ear to this and chances are you'll be parting with some of the folding stuff. The bottom line: a successful marriage of mind-blowing rock and superb melodies, well done guys!


Empire: Trading Souls

Trading Souls is the sophomore release from Empire, the super-group project from guitarist Rolf Munkes. This time around, Mokes has pulled in former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin, Deep Purple keyboard player Don Airey, former Whitesnake/Rainbow/Black Sabbath bassist Neil Murray, and drummers Gerald Kloos and Anders Johansson. The end result is a melodic hard rock album with catchy anthems and great ensemble playing.

It's wonderful to hear Tony Martin back on the scene again. His vocals on the catchy opener "One in a Million" signals a direction that perhaps this fine singer should steer towards, that being melodic hard rock in the tradition of classic Whitesnake. The same can be said for "Teenage Deadhead", a mellow tune that hints of perhaps Riverdogs, with sweeping melodies and tuneful acoustic guitar work from Mokes. Fans of heavier music will love "Big World, Little Man", the catchy riff-o-rama of "You" , or the guitar crunch of "Wherever You Go." Munkes proves to be a capable guitarist, not one to overplay, but injects plenty of meaty riffs and wah-wah tinged solos throughout. His thick chords and harmonic fills are highlighted on the upbeat closer "Back in the Light", a song whose lyrics tells of the desire for this type of music to once again top the charts.

While certainly breaking no new ground, Trading Souls is an enjoyable release. It would have been interesting to see what impact a few of these songs would have had on the music scene had they come out in 1988.

Added: April 6th 2003
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:    Sea of Tranquility

EMPIRE – Trading Souls

Lion Music

Not to be confused with the similarly named Australian band who released a brace of albums in the late 90’s, this particular Empire has much more of an international flavour to it. Something of a bonafide ‘supergroup’ built around the not inconsiderable fretboard talents of German guitarist Rolf Munkes, the band – which also features Neil Murray, Don Airey, and Anders Johansson (amongst others) – debuted in late 2001 with the respectable ‘Hypnotica’ set.

Now, whilst ‘Hypnotica’ certainly had it’s moments, in retrospect it suffered from a lack of cohesion in the writing department, a situation which was perhaps exacerbated by the fact that the finished product used two vocalists (Mark Boals and ex Balance Of Power man Lance King). And whilst neither singer did anything to disgrace himself, the slicker, more AOR oriented nature of the material wasn’t really what either excelled at. No such problems with sophomore release ‘Trading Souls’ however, the band opting for just one vocalist this time around, former Sabbath man Tony Martin.

And when you factor in a set of songs which is consistently better (not too mention more memorable and compelling) throughout, the hike in quality is actually quite startling. Opening with the understated urgency of ‘One In A Million’ (a song with a riff that sounds remarkably like Balance’s ‘In For The Count’), Empire quickly settle into a bouncy mid paced swagger which has you tapping along before the end of the first verse – and what a chorus, classic Tony Martin! Delve a little deeper however and you’ll see the potential of Empire really begin to shine on a choice selection of highly polished, blues tinged melodic hard rock which comes over as a heady mix of Rainbow, Whitesnake, and the excellent Cornerstone – there’s also a bit of a Scorpions undercurrent to a couple of the songs. Purely at random them, tracks such as the sprawling ‘Pay Back Time’, the rippling ‘You’, simmering ‘Perfect Singularity’, or heart wrenching ‘Did You Ever Love Me’, are just some of the highs this excellent album has to offer.

Backed with a crisp production and some powerful individual performances, ‘Trading Souls’ is an album which should really put Empire on the map. 

DAVE COCKETT - Fireworks Magazine, UK



Empire – “Trading Souls”

Rolf Munkes and his supergroup “Empire” are back with a new kick ass release titled “Trading Souls”. Munkes has once again assembled a group of very talented musicians, each of whom is a legend within the world of rock and metal. The line up includes:

Neil Murray - Bass (Whitesnake / Black Sabbath / Gary Moore Band)

Don Airey – Keyboards (Ozzy / Michael Schenker)

Anders Johansson - Drums (YJM / Hammerfall)

Tony Martin - Vocals (Black Sabbath / Blue Murder)

Gerald Kloos – Drums

Rolf Munkes – Guitar

Trading Souls features a smoking collaboration of highly melodic compositions delivered with conviction and attitude. Tony Martin has never sounded more soulful and Munkes delivers the guitar goods. The rhythm section of Murray, Kloos, Johansson and Airey are as tight as they come hammering out superbly crafted grooves. This is a fist pumping collection of great hard rockers - a masterpiece of melodic power rock.

Trading Souls kicks off with “One In a Million” an up-tempo AOR number. Track two, my favorite of the CD, is the slamming melodic rocker “Pay Back Time”. This track features a signature hard-hitting riff that chugs along with precision and power. Kloos, Murray and Airey mix extremely well on this track delivering a pounding rhythm for Munkes to solo over. Another highlight is “Big World Little Man” with its anthem like chorus and chant along driving vibe. A great arena rocker! Things slow down on the bluesy ballad “Teenage Deadhead” with Munkes delivering some soulful licks.

All tracks contained on the CD showcase Tony Martin at the top of his game delivering soulful vocal arrangements that are powerful yet full of emotion and feeling. Martin has one of those smooth whiskey soaked voices that is well suited to Munkes precision, melodic, guitar heavy compositions. Melodic sensibilities abound and are showcased with an intertwining of sheer musical virtuosity from all musicians present.

Munkes and company take us all to “Hard Rock” school on Trading Souls – delivering an intense collection of melodic, full-on hard rockers. The likes of which have not been heard for about 12 years. Trading Souls delivers with a straight-ahead production combined with AOR type compositions. This CD is the evolution of 80’s metal upgraded for the new millennium. This one is well worth checking out.  

Guitar Mania


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The 2nd CD of EMPIRE, the band formed around German guitarist Rolf Munkes, features a lot of well-known musicians, such as vocalist Tony Martin (BLACK SABBATH), bassist Neil Murray (ex-WHITESNAKE), keyboardplayer Don Airey (a legend, ex-RAINBOW, DEEP PURPLE) and drummer Anders Johansson (HAMMERFALL drummer). Together they have managed to produce a great record filled with quality classic Melodic Hardrock in the style of RAINBOW, DEEP PURPLE, UNIVERSE, VANDENBERG... EMPIRE is at their best during the uptempo straight-ahead rockers like “One in a million” (pure RAINBOW), “Perfect singularity” (AORish) and closing track “Back in the light” (fun song). However, also pretty good are melodic rockballads like “Teenage deadhead” and “Did you ever love me” and midtempo tunes like “Wherever you go”. With such big names like Don Airey, Tony Martin and Neil Murray around you, it isn’t a problem to record a good quality album. It’s not as sensational as the acts most of the musicians usually play in, but still a recommended piece to fans of the classic Hardrocksound.


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)   Strutter Fanzine

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EMPIRE 'Trading Souls'
LMC074 Lion Music (2003) http://www.lionmusic.com
   An interesting line-up here with main men and guitarist Rolf Munkes and drummer Gerald Kloos joined by vocalist Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath/The Cage), bass player Neil Murray (ex-Whitesnake/Brian May/Black Sabbath) and Deep Purple's keyboard player Don Airey (ex-Whitesnake/Ozzy). A line-up with plenty of pedigree without a doubt! This is the band's second album, the first having featured guest vocalists Lance King and Mark Boals. The style of the album varies from the AOR of opener 'One In A Million' to the hard rock of 'Pay Back Time'. 'Teenage Deadhead' takes a mellow path, which is very surprising given that Hammerfall's drummer, Anders Johansson guests! The keyboard touches make the song coupled with a soulful vocal from Tony Martin, who seems to have gained in vocal power and range since his Sabbath days. Latter day Asia come to mind on the building epic 'Did You Ever Love Me', especially with the harmony vocal backing. 'Back In The Light' rocks along at a fair pace complete clean, crisp guitars. One or two tracks drag slightly, like 'Big World, Little Man' but they are still listenble! A definite grower containing quality melodic hard rock, with Tony Martin putting in some sterling vocals. Hopefully this line-up will tour as so many of these project bands never see the live arena.
Jason Ritchie, Classic Rock Newswire



Reviewed by Nick Martinelli

Released Fall 2001


Empire's Website:


Rolf Munkes: Guitar
Lance King: Vocals
Neil Murray:  Bass
Gerald Kloos:  Drums 

Guest Musicians:
Mark Boals:  Vocals  *
Anders Johansson:  Drums  #
Don Airey:  Keyboards  @

Track Listing

 1. Hypnotica
 2. Fool In Love (-Lyrics-)  
 3. Into The Light (-Lyrics-)    *#
 4. You're All That I'm Looking For (-Lyrics-)  
 5. Spread My Wings (-Lyrics-)   @
 6. Bad, Bad Boy (-Lyrics-)
 7. Here I Am (-Lyrics-)  
 8. I Will Always Be There (-Lyrics-)
 9. A Different Sign
10. Shelter (-Lyrics-)  
11. Back To Me (-Lyrics-)
12. Another Place, Another Time (-Lyrics-)

Rolf Munkes!     Powerful melodic music that tips on the extremes of radio Heavy Metal and Hard rock.  Priceless vocals, screaming guitar work and one hell of a rhythm section barely begins to give credit to this rock powerhouse.  After hearing the first seconds of "Fool in Love" I WAS HOOKED!  Empire's "Hynotica" sets new standards for hard rock and melodic metal.  They bring new life to an already flushing new host of European rock bands.  Lion music knew what they were doing when they signed this rock super group.  Empire gets my vote for best Lion artist in a band format.  On a scale from one to ten, I give this monster a f'in 100!  Every song kicks ass!  Can you ask for anything more?  Well maybe a second record...(HINT HINT)

     Track two "Fool in Love" is Heavy Metal anthem for sure!  With super catchy vocals that will have you singing along for days at a time.  Rolf Munkes guitar playing is ballistic!  He really knows how to write a driving guitar riff that will knock you off you seat.  His leads are amazing, very melodic and tasty.  The lyrics in this song are real cool, crank this one up while driving.  Lance King!

     "Into the Light" track three has a guest vocal appearance by one of Heavy Metal's greatest singers Mark Boals.  He toured and recorded with Yngwie many times and still does.  Anders Johansson also made a drum appearance on this track.  If you've heard him before you'll know exactly what to expect.  If not, what planet have you been on all this time!?  This track is defiantly one of the album highlights, it's a hard edge number that brings back the old school Heavy Metal anthems we all know and love.  Munkes guitar playing is hotter than hell on this one.  His infectious rhythm guitar playing will tear the paint of your walls for sure.  His leads are screaming throughout the song.  Keep your ears peeled for all his tapping and insane fills.  The main lead just rips, with speed and melody combined for a system overlord.  In my opinion, this track put the album on the the five list for best releases of the year.

     "Your all I'm Looking For,"  is another ball kicker with a mega driving guitar line and searing vocals.  The main melody line is superb and this is another sing along number.  Even your girlfriend or wife will love this one.  After hearing this track, I thought to myself... These guys should tour with POISON!  It's got that total radio metal feel to it.  The vocals by Lance King totally kicked my butt.  He has such a great range and sense of melody.  The leads are amazing and I love Rolf's phrasing techniques in this track with out a doubt.

Neil Murry!     "Spread My Wings" song five starts out with a with a super cool effects driven guitar intro.    The song is a slower paced number that will please your ears every second.  Intelligent, creative lyrics set the stage for this song.  Rolf's acoustic guitar playing is very melodic and catchy.  Half way through they song goes up a notch bringing in the distorted guitars.  Great song overall, and I dug the keyboard playing too.  They had that 70's ish organ feel that added more depth and texture to the song.

     Track six "Bad, Bad Boy" opens with a huge guitar lead intro that is melodic and very interesting at the same time.  The song is a medium paced number that has tons of killer palm muted guitar fills and licks.  Along with that this track has to be one of the best technical guitar songs.  Even though the main riffs are bar chords, the added accents and fills add a more complex sound to it.  The main lead line has some really hot ascending neo classical feeling repeating runs.  You get a good taste for Rolf Munkes speed playing in this lead.  (note... He can play much faster than that mind you...)

Gerald Kloos!     "Here I Am" track seven is another hard hitting rock anthem that has some of the most catchiest chorus lines on the album.  The main guitar riff locks in for a solid groove.  I really like the guitar fills that pop in and out throughout the track.  Another highlight are the mega huge chorus lines.  This is a very radio friendly track for sure.  The song also builds very well, with each part leading to that big chorus I keep mentioning.  "Here I Am" is very exciting and powerful and is one of my favorite songs from the cd for sure.  Play close attention for the interesting lyrics as well.

     Track eight "I Will Always Be There" is another radio sensation hit for sure!  From the powerful leads of Rolf Munkes to the amazing vocals by Mark Boals.  I really dug this medium paced song, the vocals and guitar lines totally blended together perfectly.  The main lead section is a super powerful WAH WAH drowned insane bend fest!  Cool choice of notes for sure.  The song is very huge sounding, its layered and textured nicely.

Mark Boals!     "A Different Sign" song nine is a nice little instrumental number.  With killer keyboards and very melodic guitar lines.  It reminds me of watching one of the movie sequences from a sci-fi type computer game, where your walking across Mars's barren waste land, waiting to be attacked by alien monsters.  I just got a very spacey or sci-fi feeling from this number.

     Song ten "Shelter" is another heavy guitar drenched song.  The main riff is just plain evil!  Lance King's vocals go right along with them as well.  He has a great vocal range, and I really dig his voice.  The main lead is monstrous as well.  It opens with a huge bend and then Rolf hammers ya down with some speed licks.  His technique is amazing, I'm so glad I was introduced to him via Lion Music.  I can't wait to check more albums from this guy, and I highly recommend him to all you guitar nuts out there.

Anders Johansson!     "Back To Me" song eleven, is another powerful rock anthem packed with hot guitar playing and screaming singing.  This song has a very driving feel to it, the progressions from verse to verse are flawless.  Rolf's lead is very melodic, opening with a stop and go type idea, where he revolves around 2 techniques.  Then he finishes it off with some tasty speed licks.  All in all Empire gave you another song that you won't soon forget.

       "Another Place, Another Time" track twelve is a groove driven number that will get you rocking for sure.  It has the 80's glam metal feel to it.  Like Cinderella meets Slaughter.  Minus the neon spandex and aqua net!  The drums and bass really give it that big 80's feel to it.  The main lead is smokin'.  Its short, but sweet.  They couldn't have picked a better song to end this masterpiece first release.

Don Airey!    All in all, I'm left speechless.  Empire's "Hypnotica" is one hot record that every rock / metal fan should own.  Strong musicianship, great song writing and amazing production left me numb.  "Hypnotica" is packed with catchy guitar lines, wide ranged melodic vocals, huge drums, pounding bass lines, and some priceless keyboard playing.  Lion music knew what they were doing when they inked the deal with these guys!  The artists really made this album a huge success, with smokin' playing from Rolf Munkes; hard hitting vocals from Lance King; Neil Murray's bass playing was some of the most pounding and and rhythmic playing I've heard in a while; Gerald Kloos contributed some awesome drum work that keep the songs' upbeat feel moving the whole time.  I also enjoyed the guest appearances from Marc Boals, Anders Johansson (drums), and Don Airey (Keyboards).  They also helped this record sound larger than life.  Mark Boals has been around the metal scene since the 1980's and continues to contribute hard hitting vocals year in and year out.  Its nice to know that there are new bands coming out that know how to write killer songs.

     In closing, I would like to ask Lion Music to make Empire release another CD as soon as humanly possible!  This CD is defiantly in my top 10 favorite CDs of all time!



Lance King - vocals; Mark Boals - vocals; Rolf Munkes - guitars; Neil Murray - bass; Don Airey - keyboards; Gerald Kloos - drums; Andres Johansson - drums


An impressive lineup this one. Featuring the vocal talents of both Lance King (Gemini, Balance Of Power), and the operatically inclined Mark Boals. (Billionaire Boys Club). Assisted by the six stringing antics of German based Rolf Munkes, a British back-end of Murray and Airey (who haven't they played with!) powered by the dual pairing of Kloos and Johansson (ex Yngwie J Malmsteen among others), the only way is 'up' for this Empire project. The songs are a smorgasbord of melodic metal, ranging in style and influence - starting off from the care-free seventies, and moving forward through into the indulgent eighties and beyond.

For instance, 'Into The Light' is a spectacular entrance for Boals masterful vocals. Not to be outdone, King's work on 'You're All That I'm Looking For' is soaring, while the song is a commercial but melodic romp. 'Spread My Wings' which is a ballad - sees Airey stretching out, trying to emulate Ken Hensley with seventies styled keyboards a la Uriah Heep. 'I Will Always Be There' is a big American sounding track, with solid grafting guitars from Munkes. The last pairing are unusual - 'Shelter' moves in that same headspace as Ronnie James Dio era Black Sabbath, while 'Another Place Another Time' harks back to that early nineties party rock made famous by British bands Thunder and Little Angels.

Fans of power vocals will love this. Definitely anyone interested in the heavier genres of melodic rock will do well to check this ablum out. Overall, you can't help but be impressed by an album which has good consistent material, two talented singers, and a stellar musical cast. Melodic metal never sounded so good. - George Thatcher

Rating: 9.1



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Empire - Hypnotica
The line-up of musicians alone is interesting reading. Responsible for the vocals are the exceptional Balance Of Power singer Lance King as well as Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring Of Fire, etc.). Both of them are distinct vocal acrobates who also have their own style. Rolf Munkes (guit), Neil Murray (bass), Don Airey (keys), Anders Johansson (drums) and Gerald Kloos (drums) make the line-up of this talented group complete. The album goes off like a bomb from the beginning on with lots of power and dynamics. Not that we're dealing with speed metal here - it's a highly energetic bunch of complex songs with style,   many facettes, technically sophisticated interpretations and ingenious melody lines. Great verses arefollowed by even greater choruses that are both catchy and expressive. The subtle breaks that every now and again heighten the intesity of the songs and the widening of the thematic material constantly leads you onto new
climes. A very emotional album, where versatility is not mixed up with bombast and at the same time one of the best recent melodic metal albums.

The Rock 30/30


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Empire - Hypnotica
November 3, 2001
LMC 2110 2
Rating: 9/10

Wow, this is what I would call a super group. Here we got Lance King (Balance Of Power), Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, Company of Snakes), Rolf Munkes and Gerald Kloos in the same band. And if that wasn't enough! The guest musicians are even more interesting, because they are Mark Boals (Ted Nugent, Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring of Fire), Don Airey (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Rainbow, Company of Snakes) and Anders Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen, Hammerfall). But a bunch of good musicians isn't enough to make a good album, no, the catchy straightforward hard rock compositions you can hear on this album is the true essence of the album.

The basics to the compositions seem to be done by Rolf Munkes and his drummer Gerald Kloos. Rolf also seems to be the one who founded the project, got in contact with the other musicians and refined the compositions together with them. Stefan Kaufman, who has produced Accept, U.D.O. and many others, has also laid his hands on the Empire album. And what about the music then? Well, it is a mixture between Rolf Munkes solo album, Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow and Vinnie Vincent's Invasion.

It's quite unnecessary to say that the musicianship on this album is as good as it can get. All the musicians involved in the project are doing the absolute best, and for being the brainchild of a guitarist, it quite surprising that the guitar playing isn't dominating the album. All the musicians get their fair share.

If Empire will continue as a band I would be very surprised if they didn't become one of the leading metal bands today. This is one of the best albums
in this genre I have heard this year.

1. Hypnotica (0:23), 2. Fool In Love (3:40), 3. Into The Light (4:17), 4.
You're All That I'm Looking For (3:58), 5. Spread My Wings (5:05), 6. Bad,
Bad Boy (3:38), 7. Here I Am (4:43), 8. I Will Always Be There (4:43), 9. A
Different Sign (2:01), 10. Shelter (4:08), 11. Back To Me (4:08), 12.
Another Place, Another Time (3:52)

Lance King - Vocals
Rolf Munkes - Guitars, Bass
Neil Murray - Bass
Gerald Kloos - Drums
Guest appearance:
Mark Boals - Vocals
Anders Johansson - Drums
Don Airey - Keyboards

Also listen to: Rolf Munkes "No More Obscurity" (2000) with Gerald Kloos,
Anders Johansson and Lance King!

Date: 2001-12-02
Reviewer: Greger Rönnqvist

Lion Music, Box 19, Godby 22 411, Åland, Finland
E-mail: lion.sales@lionmusic.com
Lion Music Website: www.lionmusic.com
Fax 35818 41551

Empire Website: www.empire-rock.com
Empire E-mail: info@empire-rock.com



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Empire - Hypnotica

Not to be confused with the Australian mob who’s second effort ‘The Power’ was released by Escape a couple of years back, this particular Empire are a multinational ‘supergroup’ project built around the not inconsiderable fretboard talents of Rolf Munkes. Having earned himself numerous plaudits from the specialist guitar magazines in his native Germany and beyond, Munkes released his first solo album ‘No More Obscurity’ through rising Finnish label Lion Music back in November 2000. Part instrumental / part vocal, it showcased not only an amazing technical dexterity, but a keen ear for great melodies and sound song structures.

Since then, things really seem to be taking off for Munkes. He subsequently joined German metal act Vanize (a band which also features Peter Dirkschneider, brother of former Accept man Udo), and now, ever the busy chap, he’s put together the more AOR / MHR friendly Empire. Bringing back together once again some of the players who contributed to ‘No More Obscurity’ - Andes Johansson (ex Malmsteen, HammerFall), Lance King (ex King’s Machine, Balance Of Power), and respected session drummer Gerald Kloos – the addition of such luminaries as Neil Murray, Don Airey and Mark Boals makes ‘Hypnotica’ a most mouth watering proposition indeed.

Much more than just yer average Malmsteen wannabe shredder, Munkes demonstrates a real passion and understanding of his instrument, and whilst there are plenty of sizzling fretboard pyrotechnics on offer, that by no means sums up where ‘Hypnotica’ is coming from. Rather than hogging the whole spotlight a la Malmsteen, Munkes is more than happy to share, trading great licks with both Murray and Airey to make the songs that much more accessible and appealing to as wide a hard rock audience as humanly possible.

Kicking off with the instrumental ‘Hypnotica’, a brief atmospheric preamble which swiftly reaches its chaotic conclusion, the album launches itself properly amid the swirling riffs and pulsating vocals of ‘Fool In Love’. ‘Into The Light’, the first of two lead vocals from Mark Boals has a more obvious Malmsteen / Ring Of Fire streak running through it, although strangely the choral melodies remind me much more of Balance Of Power – again, there’s some excellent fills and flurries from Munkes. Elsewhere, there’s the punchy stadium rock feel of ‘You’re All That I’m Looking For’ (Nelson styled harmonies meets Def Leppard anyone), the good time funky vibe of ‘Another Place, Another Time’ (shades of Poison’s ‘Unskinny Bop’), the emotion drenched AOR of ‘Bad Bad Boy’ (touches of Tower City perhaps), pulsating ‘Here I Am’ (very TNT like), and the multilayered hard rock of ‘I Will Always Be There’ (the second of the two Boals tracks). Ballad fans are also well catered for with the smouldering ‘Spread My Wings’ which gradually bursts into flame as the song progresses.

Whilst I won’t claim that all these songs are destined to be classics, at the very least they show the versatility and resilience of Munkes as a songwriter, and as such bode very well for future releases. Very promising start.


8/10 Dave Cockett www.hardroxx.com


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Empire - Hypnotica

Empire - Hypnotica
(Lion Music 2001)

An all-star melodic rock supergroup of the highest order featuring two former members of Rainbow - Neil Murray (Bass) and Don Airey (Keyboards). The Drummer, Gerald Kloose is a fine player who has a unique snare rolling style - it's almost jazz.  Balance of Power's Lance King takes on the lead vocal role and Rolf Munkes is the shredding guitar extraordinaire.

It's very, very musical and so impressive that it comes across as too much at times - but with a line-up like this - who's complaining.  Opener, 'Hypnotic' fades up like your witnessing a space-age computer centre which travels into a pounding melodic rocker called 'Fool in Love' about love being longer lasting than you previously thought it would be - Nice solo Rolf !!

'Spread My Wings' - "till the walls come tumblin' down", I hear you say, is a stormer of a song - a ballad at that - then later there's the classy and
cheesy'ish 'Bad Bad Boy that's almost pop-rock (musically it's sort of Danny Danzi meets Mr. Big, Johnny Lima and Bon Jovi) or 'Here I am' with it's deep voice over section.   'Another time, another place' is pure cock rock - cool- I dig this loads !!

In fact any track on the entire album is well worth checkin' out - quite sincerely the material here is a melodic, musical dream to the ears - perfection and straight to the point professionalism is wating to greet you.


By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS


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Empire - Hypnotica


Empire – "Hypnotica"

Rolf Munkes - Empire project is a high octane full on rock & roll extravaganza! Featuring an all star cast of rocks elite. Lance King & Mark Boals - vocals, Neil Murray - Bass, Gerald Kloos & Anders Johansson - Drums and the ever great Don Airey - Keyboards. Hypnotica contains twelve tracks of melodic hard rock with some twists and turns that will please almost everyone. There is a little bit of everything here. From power metal to ballads and everything in between.

Rolf Munkes provides his usual outstanding and complex guitar playing, showcasing his brilliant style and strong melodic sensibilities. Hypnotica proves once again that Rolf is a musical force not to be taken lightly; powering all twelve tracks with his all star cast of musicians. 

Tracks like "Fool In Love" and "I Will Always Be There" are kick ass rock and roll with very catchy melodies that draw you into the music. "Spread My Wings" is a great power ballad with some fine keyboard playing from Mr. Don Airey. Munkes totally shines throughout, pulling out all the stops with his rip-roaring guitar solos that add a nice counterpoint to all the compositions. 

This is hard rock updated for the new millennium - it rocks, it rolls!! If you are a fan of 80's hard rock, you owe it to yourself to check out this colossal masterpiece.

Guitar Mania



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Empire - Hypnotica
December 2001 | Released: 2001, Lion Music | Rating: 4/5 | Reviewer: Rick

When I got this CD to review I really didn't have a clue who Empire were. The CD was totally new and I hadn't even gotten the first buzz about the band. Well now that I am acquainted with the band I a DAMN HAPPY that this CD was sent my way to review. Back in the 80s when I was a young metalhead I was one of those strange characters that listened to everything from hard rock to thrash and everything in between. I might have a Ratt cassette on then jump to some Slayer then back to Quiet Riot then to some Maiden then back to Testament. It didn't matter. It was all metal to me. Today, with revisionist thinking and metals walk down paths much darker and brutal many people would argue with these bands being metal. Well I never cared. I liked it all. Which brings me to why I like this Empire disc. Empire are a (according to their press release) an all star melodic hard rock super group. I will leave this to you to decide but they have created one disc of damn good hard rock. Empire features Lance King on vocals. King is the vocalist of Balance of Power who earlier this year released their latest album PERFECT BALANCE which is sure to land on many a metal top 10 of 2001 list. Lance is also the guiding force behind Nightmare records who themselves have a great stable of hard rock and metal bands. Joining him on bass is Neil Murray. Murray is one of metals legendary bass players have played with everyone from Black Sabbath, Whitesnake and Steve Vai to Eric Clapton, Sting and Jeff Beck. On guitar is German guitarist Rolf Munkes who has preformed solo and is now a member of Vanize. On Drums is Gerald Kloos. The lineup does not stop there. the band also has some great guests. Legendary vocalist in his own right Mark Boals of Yngwie Malmsteen fame adds his powerful pipes. Another well known name is metal , Don Airey adds keyboards to the disc. Don has played with Ozzy, Whitesnake and Rainbow. And last but not least, contributing drums is Yngwie Malmsteen alumni and current Hammerfall drummer Anders Johansson. With this lineup how could they go wrong?

After the obligatory intro the festivities kick into high gear with "Fool In Love" which is just a smoker of a track. This track is also basic unit on the CD which consists of King, Kloos, Munkes and Murray. "Into the Light" continues on with the up tempo material. This track sees Boals take over on vocals and Johansson get behind the drum kit. Munkes also handles bass on this track along with some shredding six string. These are 2 of the best tracks on the release and serve as a great introduction to what Empire is all about, kick ass melodic metal! "Spread My Wings" is a power ballad which features King on vocals but adds some great organ from Airey. In the past I have never been a huge fan of the organ but it just fits this song so perfectly that I can't imagine the song without it. Other standout tracks include the melodic "Bad Bad Boy", the thumping "I Will Always Be There" with Boals on vocals and the mid tempo plodder "Back To Me".

Its about time someone made a CD like this. I am sick of hearing bands say that they are putting out a CD of good old hard rock only to get the disc and find out that their idea of hard rock is a cross between Nirvana and LL Cool J. Well this CD delivers. Hard Rock done 21st Century style.I have to say that I was impressed with Lance King. This is the second great release that he has been on this year. I already knew that Mark Boals was one of the best vocalists in metal but King has proven that he is the equal of Boals and a force to be reckoned with. If you are a fan of hard rock and melodic metal then Empire is a band that you should not miss. www.empire-rock.com


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Empire - Hypnotica

Daniel Hohr, KNAC.COM German Correspondent
Thursday, November 22, 2001 10:14 AM

(Lion Music)

There are lots of great guitar players on this planet, but not many of them are gifted songwriters who have the discipline to subordinate their guitar playing to the song. There are many bands out there whose songs either suffer from guitarsturbation or where the guitarist who leads the band doesn't get a chance to show his talent.

Empire is different. This project is the brainchild of the German guitarist Rolf Munkes, who has assembled a line-up that can only be described as first-class. The low frequencies are provided by ex-Whitesnake and current Company Of Snakes bassist Neil Murray, on drums there's his pal Gerald Kloos and on vocals Balance Of Power singer Lance King. Guest stars are ex-Rainbow, ex-Whitesnake and ex-Ozzy keyboard wizzard Don Airey, Yngwie Malmsteen and Hammerfall drummer Anders Johansson and also ex-Malmsteen and current Ring Of Fire singer Mark Boals. While many a guitar-orientated album gets stuck in endless solos and self-indulgent riffing, Rolf has written an album which combines the power of hard rock with excellent und versatile songwriting on the one hand, and exciting and expressive guitar playing on the other.

The power of the song is definitely placed in the foreground on Hypnotica and Rolf's guitar never falls out of place or dominates the songs too much. It shines through in the right places and gives the vocal lines and and the other instruments enough space for development. For example, the opening lick to the first song, "Fool In Love,” leaves no doubt that Hypnotica is an album written by a guitarist, yet it only pops up again after each chorus and links them to the next verse. The focus here is nevertheless on the melodies.

Stylistically, Hypnotica links more traditional and epic heavy rock numbers like "Into The Light" with its Rainbow-style intro (I learn it's guitar and not keyboards), sung by Mark Boals, with light-hearted rockers like "Bad, Bad Boy" or the final Mötley Crüe-type "Another Place, Another Time.” In between you get everything you could expect from a good album of the hard rock / heavy rock genre. Groovy, foot-stomping tracks like "I Will Always Be There" (once again with Mark Boals on vocals), powerful, dramatic riffing ("Shelter") and a fantastic ballad, "Spread My Wings.” To me this song is one of the highlights on Hypnotica. Nowhere on the album could the initial piano and later on the good old Hammond played by Don Airey make more sense and I cannot think of anybody else who could add so much to the song than the ex-Rainbow keyboardist.

Each and every of the ten songs plus two intros on Empire's Hypnotica makes a point that even in times when everybody is complaining about short-lived fashions like "nu metal,” heavy rock is neither outdated nor old-fashioned when you get the right people to play it. Get talented and experienced musicians and they will still kick ass. Hypnotica is one of the best albums of the genre I've heard for a long time. It has a refreshingly modern attitude and, at the same time, sticks to the values of rock we appreciate.

As a conclusion I'd say that, instead of moaning about all the nu metal hype (in fact, does
anybody take that seriously anyway?), get Empire's Hypnotica and enjoy 45 minutes of excellent
rock music performed by musicians who know what they're doing.



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Empire- Hypnotica
Lion Music

Lance King (Balance Of Power) on vocals, Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Gary Morre, Eric Clapton & Ian Gillan to name a few) on bass, Rolf
Munkus on guitar and Gerald Kloos on drums invited with Don Airey (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Rainbow…) on keyboards, Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, Yngwie Malmsteen) on drums and Mark Boals on vocals some guest musicians to create the debut album of this new melodic metal band. Needless to say that a line up like this can only delivers high quality music. After a short intro the band bursts out with “Fool In Love” a perfect example of a classical hard rock tune with neo classical influences. While Ralf Munkus is putting down a sea of guitar virtuosity vocalist Lance King belts out his mesmerizing vocal lines. Everybody who knows the band Balance Of Power will know that Lance is a man with a powerful voice. The second tune “Into The Light” is sung by Mark Boals and he puts down a goose bump causing performance. The way he sings the chorus is out of this world. Marc returns one more time to sing “I Will Always Be There”. All other songs are sung by lance King. The album never loses its drive and it is from the beginning to the end one big exciting melodic hard rock roller coaster ride. “Hypnotica” is a mindblowing debut of this super band (8,5)

Bruno Van De Welde http://members.tripodnet.nl/spincity


Empire - Hypnotica (Lion Music/ Rising Sun) 4,5/ 6,0

EMPIRE is the new outfit from German guitarist Rolf Munkes feat. none others than Lance King from BALANCE OF POWER on vocals, bassist Neil Murray (ex- WHITESNAKE a.o.) and keysman Don Airey (ex-WHITESNAKE a.o.) plus talented German Gerald Kloos on drums. "Hypnotica" offers a great selection of hard rock with slightly neoclassical elements which overall can be compared with various side projects from YNGWIE MALMSTEENs former musicians such as MARK BOALS and MIKE VESCERA for example or various Italian hard rock bands from Dario Mollo.
Highlights include the extremely catchy "Into the Light", the sort of epic "Here I Am" and the rockin' "Shelter me". The production is a bit thin at times. If the band can manage to keep it up on one high level next time, they might have the chance to join the top 10 of the genre. Nevertheless - an extremely promising debut album!
Review by Birgitt Schwanke http://www.rock-area.de/reviews.htm