"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

White Empress - "Rise Of The Empress" (CD)

White Empress - "Rise Of The Empress" CD cover image

"Rise Of The Empress" track listing:

1. Rise of the Empress (2:33)
2. The Congregation (4:03)
3. A Prisoner Unleashed (3:42)
4. Darkness Encroaching (5:00)
5. Sven's Tower (5:06)
6. Erased and Rewritten (3:33)
7. The Ecstatic and the Sorrow (4:43)
8. Dethroned (4:51)
9. Obsession with the Empress (Human to Divine) (5:28)
10. Ours to Burn (4:03)

Reviewed by on October 3, 2014

"The Cradle Of Filth influence is apparent, but is by no means the core sound, as “Rise Of The Empress” roars across 10 tracks with a balance of symphonic, epic, thrash, groove, and even a little electronic."

After Dani Filth's Devilment project, metal fans are getting another chance to hear Cradle Of Filth alumni expanding their musical horizons as ex-member Paul Allender returns to the music scene with White Empress. While Devilment sticks more closely to to the tried and true formula, White Empress has an unexpected mix of styles. The Cradle Of Filth influence is apparent, but is by no means the core sound, as “Rise Of The Empress” roars across 10 tracks with a balance of symphonic, epic, thrash, groove, and even a little electronic.

That diversity of styles may not be surprising when looking through the impressive pedigree found on the band roster, as the lineup includes members involved with Damnation Angels, Luna Mortis, Coal Chamber, and Kartikeya. The biggest range on sounds may actually be from the vocals however, switching between demonic harsh growls that lean towards the black side and ethereal female clean singing. According to the official band lineup there's only one vocalist, so apparently the same talented lady is making both of these very different sounds.

While there's occasionally the Delain or Amberian Dawn style present due to the female vocals and symphonic elements, on the whole the album is a magnitude deeper into the extreme side, so people who aren't fans of female-fronted symphonic bands will still be able to get into this. For the most part, “Rise Of The Empress” is driven primarily by the guitars, with the symphonic side playing a more supporting role. Keeping with that more extreme and underground feel, the production is just a smidge on the murky side. The guitars and bass could definitely have a cleaner sound, and while it's not as bad as with the average black metal outfit, the bass does get lost frequently.

Some bleed through in sound starts to happen towards the middle to end of the disc, so to keep things fresh there are some unexpected turns. “Erased and Re-Written” for instance increases the pace significantly and is even shorter than the surrounding songs for a frantic and energetic experience. Both “The Ecstatic and the Sorrow” and “Ours To Burn” also throw in electronic sound effects for an industrial edge.

While a refreshing change of pace and a fun eclectic ride, the lack of strict focus on “Rise Of The Empress” may also be a shortcoming. There's some great symphonic style extreme metal here, but it's not going to dethrone Septicflesh or anything. Likewise, the minor industrial segments won't put this above any of the giants of that scene. That being said, the debut full-length from White Empress features talented musicians playing all-around solid music, and hopefully there will be more new tunes coming from the band in the future.

Highs: Good mix of styles, fusing symphonic female-fronted sounds with black metal, groove, and industrial.

Lows: The production isn't perfect, and the lack of focus occasionally feels unsatisfying.

Bottom line: Paul Allender's new project leaves Cradle Of Filth behind to utilize extreme black metal, fantastic clean vocals, and even some industrial sounds.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)