19 Sep 2021

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Empress - EP Review: Trash Dynasty

10 Sep 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Empress were formed by guitarist/singer Lora Thompson and drummer Craig Gilliver after the demise of their previous project, Cheshire Grimm with whom they toured the length of NZ, played with international acts and local superstars, as well as releasing material along the way. The lead track from this EP, Sailing the Seas of Grease, was actually released towards the end of 2020 but it has taken until now for their six-track 23-minute-long debut EP to made available. I am always interested in how bands describe their own music, as it can give valuable pointers into how they view themselves, and when I saw them say that it was as "If Chelsea Wolf and the Melvins had a reggae baby and fed it to Courtney Love", I knew it would be fun.

There is bass on the EP, providing a thicker bottom end, but when the guys play it is just the duo, and while I cannot hear much reggae in here, there is no doubt the DIY indie punk sound of bands like The Melvins have had a massive impact, into which you could also add the likes of The Pixies, plus plenty of CBGB aggression, all of which contrasts greatly with the Lora’s vocals. These are often delicate and quite at odds with the repeated crunching sound taking place underneath, with her melodic pop sensibilities quite at odds with the music. However, there are also times when she becomes far punkier in outlook, with a real edge and sense of menace. The music is often repetitive and basic, which causes an almost hypnotic state in the listener, with the vocals at one level and quote removed from the layers below. The bass and drums often play the same line, while the drums are hooked in, and they all hit the beat hard.

Not only is Mental Health Inquiry the longest son on the EP, at more than five minutes in length, but it is also the most complex as it moves through many different musical styles. This is one number where the dub can be heard, yet there is a lengthy section which is reminiscent of something far trippier and more distorted, straight out of the Sixties garage scene. This is honest music, not trying to be anything it isn’t, with the guys laying it all out there, take it or leave it. Theftones is another highlight, with Lora being gentle and almost delicate in the beginning, yet by the end it is far more frantic as they hit for the jugular. Overall, there is a lot of variety within the six songs, all with passion and enthusiasm, and I bet these guys are a load of fun in concert. Until Tamaki Makaurau gets out of lockdown I’ll just have to keep playing this = raw, jagged and real.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Empress

Empress are a high-energy, heavy 2-piece hailing from Auckland and Hamilton. They describe their sound as "If Chelsea Wolf and the Melvins had a reggae baby and fed it to Courtney Love".

The band grew from the ashes of both members previous project, Cheshire Grimm, who formed in 2012 and disbanded in 2018, with a long list of achievements to their name in that time, including supports for countless NZ & international acts, 2 EPs released, 2 Australian tours and countless NZ shows incl 2 headlining tours of both the North and South Islands.

Empress, though comprised only of front-woman Lora and rhythm section Craig, is a substantially heavier and chunkier sound.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Empress


Trash Dynasty
Year: 2021
Type: EP

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