Empress - Wait 'Til Night

20 Nov 2020 - Thorsten

Doomy-Post-Punk | Brilliant Emperor Records | Release date: 20 Nov 2020

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Post-Punk with female vocals that is less Blondie and more Joy Division - enchanting!

Amanda Marshall. Julie Christmas. Paula Cole. Chelsea Wolfe. Heather Nova. Associations that first crossed my mind when I listened to the really interesting album by Australia’s Empress. And before anybody from Down Under tries to strangle me in my sleep. I did not worsen my enumeration by including Amy Lee.

Joke aside, this record is dominated by the very strong, powerful voice of front-woman Chloe who totally encapsulates the emotions that the band wants to bring across with this new release, their second full-length Wait ‘til Night. The album is scheduled for release on November 20th via Brilliant Emperor Records and will be the follow-up to 2017’s eponymous debut that the quintet released on their own.

The fact that Chloe and her voice was mentioned first in this review shall NOT take anything away from the music of the guys behind her. The band perfectly balance out the different elements of their songs – the vocals and the music. The music is definitely post-rock or post-punk, depending on your point of view. The first half of the record is a bit more punk-ish in a sense that it is a bit harsher, less elegant; it is less “wind” and more “storm” than the second half, if you take that notion. The idea probably becomes clear when you listen to the first song “Golden Orb” (which was also the first single): the drums are highly energetic in the background just before they hit a harder point after roughly 3.20 minutes. The song here gains this harsher and noisier side, which is accompanied by some of Chloe’s more marrow-shaking screams on this record. The drums dominate the ending the track with a tiny march segment – this band is more than just a strong voice (and thus more than Evanescence). When listening to the second single “Void Share Void” it automatically is clear how close the band is to Chelsea Wolfe and some of her later songs: semi-acoustic, haunting guitar motifs are the basis on which the vocals talk about missing someone. After one minute the hellish loneliness sets in and takes over “I follow the humming of the bees from your hive up ahead / Between my fingers run their wings but I want to feel you instead / And I don’t want to but I have to let you go / And I never felt so alone” - the blending of nature with heartfelt emotions evoke a feeling of being alone in this big world. The sweetness (honey and the loved one) are so close but yet to unreachable. All this sounds like emotional torture and so much worse. “Void Share Void”, by the way, void cannot be shared because otherwise it is not a void anymore – sharing implies having someone to share it with and thus not being alone anymore, that track is the beginning of a second part of the record which is much more elegant and thus open to post-rock than the first one.

The lyrics on Wait ‘til Night are so crisp and clear and gut-wrenching. Some people might argue that she sings in a style very close to pop, hence the above-mentioned female singers. However, I wonder whether we still live in a day and age where references always have to “genre-bound” in a sense that I could only use Chelsea or Julie as a reference for Chloe’s style of singing? Yes, she sounds like all of the above but only because all of the above are able to provide highly-emotional vocals, just like Chloe. If we arrive at the point where we understand that music works without borders, we will be a big step further on the way to understanding music as an endless field of influences and references. This record is definitely worth your attention, because it wonders on the line of post-rock and post-punk due to some exquisite drumming and it has a unique voice.

PS There is another possible reference for this record: When looking at the cover you cannot but remember the iconic image of Kylie Minogue lying cold and dead in the water in Nick Cave’s song “Where the Wild Roses Grow” ;-)