Following up on their first album, Empress walks even deeper into the darkness.
In 2017, the Australian band Empress released their self-titled exploratory record. Their second, Wait ’Til Night, was recorded in 2018-2019 and is appearing now in the perfect historical setting for the mood the music establishes. The band is Chloe Cox (vocals and keys), Julian Currie (guitar), Jackson Tuchscherer (guitar), Shaun Allen (bass), and Ben Smith (drums and percussion).
There is a long list of tags associated with Empress including doom, shoegaze, alternative, indie, post-rock … and they all fit. The songs on the new album are mostly very quiet and subdued, and entirely infused with darkness. The recurring themes I hear are sadness and regret written into a variety of settings.
“Golden Orb” opens with a single guitar accompanying Chloe Cox’s pleading voice, joined in time by slightly off center rhythm and pace. The most aggressive vocals appear in this song, and here the music lives up to the band’s own description that its work is “a clash of emotional and musical contradictions, soft and harsh, calm and hysterical.” The next two songs – “Wait ’Til Night” and “Scorpio Moon” – share a sourness, a sort of clashing twinge in the composition that ties them together in my head. “Back To The Ground” is eerie, like a slow murder in the mist. “Void Share Void” is a study of emptiness where the sorrow eases quietly along, occasionally interrupted by punctuating bursts. “Curse” feels like a story of fate being imposed on you and “Where No Light Remains” has an ambient soft roar underlying the gentle singing and sympathetic piano that removes all resistance from your mind.
The album ends with “I Let You In,” which is the loudest in the set, beginning as it does with coarse, crossing instruments. Cox’s voice moves from its quietude to straining against the recurring theme of regret. The first song and the last song together create an ethereal border that holds all the music in the set together. I find this album to be solemn and darkly soothing. Recommended.
Wait ’Til Night is available now. The digital is an easy get at Bandcamp, and Brilliant Emperor has released a vinyl version as well as a merch bundle (shop link below).
Empress Bandcamp, https://empressempress.bandcamp.com
Empress Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/empress.band.empress
Label Shop, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com
Label Bandcamp, https://brilliantemperor.bandcamp.com