Power of Metal.dk Review

Empire 21
Empire 21
Style: Hard Rock / Metal
Release date: 28 November , 2014
Playing time: 43:12

Empire 21 is the talented Swede CJ Grimmark's brainchild after his former band 'Narnias' funeral. CJ has appeared with several influential Christian metal bands including Narnia, Saviour Machine, and Rob Rock. He joined the strong metal band Beautiful Sin together with the drummer Uli Kusch (Masterplan, Helloween) in 2006 on their fantastic album 'The Unexpected'. He has been a special guest guitarist on fellow Narnia bandmate Christian Liljegren's side projects Divinefire and Audiovision. He has recorded his debut solo album that was set to be titled Grimmark, where he also handles the vocals. Grimmark's style of playing, especially on Narnia's earlier work, is often compared to the neo-classical metal style of Yngwie Malmsteen. This new project is taking us on a journey between melodic hard rock and white metal. Heavy guitar riffs and soaring vocals blended with some neo-classical metal guitar loops. Ricard Hulteke from Jönköping is a new vocal name for me and he is a worship leader in the modern Christian church. On this album he sings very strong and contributes strongly to the high rating. His voice fits perfectly to this harder and rougher music genre.

'When You're Falling' kicks the album off and is one of the heaviest tracks on the album. As the second song on the list appears one of the top songs 'I Can't', which is a melodic and half progressive metal/rock tune with elegant guitar riffing. 'All Is Lost' sounds like a track from Nocturnal Rites, because Ricard sings quite similar to Jonny Lindqvist. A classic power metal ballad with big vocals and delightful, strong guitars together with tasteful keyboards in the backseat. In 'Traveler' it's sounds more like modern metal and Ricard sings very convincingly and he also sings with his mouth wide open. It is a delight to hear CJ's guitar play along with Tobias and Andreas stable bass and drum playing. 'Empire 21' is a top-notch track on the disc where great melodies are blended with rougher metal sound and of course glimmering guitars.

The powerful track '100 Nights' has many hefty tempo changes and fits under the modern metal genre. I thought they had made a ballad after the first seconds of 'Heard It All', but this is another strong, powerful metal tune with amazing vocals and impressive instrumental skills. The only track, which doesn't grabs my spine is 'This Is My Story'. Not a bad song really, it just hasn't the same quality level as the other songs, except the majestic guitar solo of course. 'Calling' is a up-tempo metal song in similar folder as band like Disturbed. Empire 21 closes the album with two songs similar to their countrymen in The Poodles and H.E.A.T. Very nice debut album from CJ and his band members.

Fans of melodic hard rock/metal with clean, strong vocals and guitar work in world class has a new band to check out. Thanks for the ride guys!!

Line up:
CJ Grimmark (Rob Rock, ex. Narnia, Fullforce, Beautiful Sin) - Guitars
Ricard Hulteke - Vocals
Tobias Enbert (Darkwater, Harmony) - Drums
Andreas Ålöv - Bass
John Svensson (Harmony) - Keyboard

01. When You're Falling
I Can't
All is Lost
Empire 21
100 Nights
Heard it All
This Is My Story
Would You
Label: Empire 21 Records
Distribution: Empire 21 Records
Artwork rating: 86/100
Reviewed by: Patrik J Skoglund
Date: 3 December, 2014
Website: www.facebook.com/empire21