"Rise Of The Empress"

By Dr. Abner Mality

I'm not quite sure what fan reaction to this band will be. They seem to be dedicated to combining several sub-genres of metal, but I don't know if listeners into one style will accept the others.

The pedigree of White Empress is quite impressive. Lead guitarist is Paul Allender who spent many years with Cradle Of Filth, while the demure blonde singer with the roar of a beast is Mary Zimmer from Luna Mortis/ Ottoman Empire, a band with roots not far from where the Good Doctor is currently stationed. We also have members of Coal Chamber, The Awakening and Damnation Angels pitching in. But what exacly is it they are pitching into? What is White Empress?

Visually, you'd be led to believe  this is some sort of hard Gothic act with female vocals, like a scary version of Evanescence. And indeed, that is part of the White Empress sound. But it's not the main part. Much of "Rise of the Empress" is given over to raw, extreme metal, with thrashing riffs and horrific roars from the aforementioned Ms. Zimmer. She is actually a world class vocal talent and singing instructor, but here, she spends a lot of time on the dark side. Hard to believe these gruff growls are coming from a female throat. She does uses her powerful clean vocals as well, but even these are lower pitched than the usual angelic "divas" one finds in Goth metal.

I'm not sure if the hardcore metal heads will be able to accept the more Gothic and electronic aspects of the album, which are fairly pervasive. There's also a lot of symphonic keyboard work that's not a million miles from Cradle of Filth. On the other hand, those drawn to the more melodic side of White Empress might be exhausted and repulsed by the brutality in songs like "Darkness Encroaching" and "A Prisoner Unleashed". Just about every tune here combines all the various aspects of White Empress' influences. It's an awful lot to absorb..

But there is a rawness and power in this music despite its deficiencies. I got the impression throughout that the band was going all out to mix industrial, Gothic and extreme in a way that hasn't been done before. The result has a certain brutal charm. Check it out if you are open to many styles of heavy metal, but with a vicious side.