It seems a lot of metal bands these days enjoy playing with subgenres and creating hybrid sounds. I love the creativity of these groups and their courage to explore the space and make something unique. Australia’s Empress is one of those experimental bands and their latest release, Wait ‘Til Night, is an alluring combination of shoegaze, doom, indie, post-metal, and black metal. This album is dark yet delicate, haunting, and dreamy. The band’s signature sound is fine tuned in this, their sophomore album.
The album opens modestly with a single melodic guitar before introducing enchanting clean vocals by Empress lead singer Chloe Cox. The beginning vocals and tone here reminds me of Chelsea Wolfe—dark and echoing, beautiful and bewitching. Soon, drums are introduced as the music swells and Chloe breaks into harsh vocals as the drumming intensifies bringing all the flavor of black metal. The opening track, “Golden Orb,” follows this pattern of rising and falling until the end of the song which brings a lot of energy and fire. The following track has a strong shoegaze feel and sound akin to True Widow. Each track brings a new sound variation, but the lyrics stay consistently emotive and heavy throughout with themes of heartache and loneliness.
My favorite track on Wait ‘Til Night is “Void Shaped Void” which mirrors the rise and fall of the opener with a quiet contemplative guitar and vocal introduction that grows to post-metal, avant-garde texture and power. The last minute and a half bursts open with dramatic drumming and aching vocals repeating “I never felt so alone.” The vocals then dissipate as the drumming is amplified. This sound quiets once more as the remainder of the lyrics are more spoken then sung adding to the heavy emotion of the track. The drumming builds once more to add a final punch with the lyrics of “I wish you were here, I wish I was there.” The talents of Empress drummer Ben Smith are highlighted in this song along with dynamic sounds created by guitarists Julian Currie and Jackson Tuchscherer, and bassist Shaun Allen.
Chloe’s vocal performance throughout Wait ‘Til Night is stunning. Her voice is especially showcased on “Where No Light Can Remain.” This track is mainly atmospheric with soft piano and synth. Chloe’s voice is echoing, ethereal, and pure. She has a vast range, and the emotions of the lyrics are really felt and heard through her expressive singing.
Though Wait ‘Til Night brings more soft, clean vocal moments than harsh black metal sounds, and the album flows, rises and falls, with each track bringing its own sound and never staying in one place for too long. Though the tracks vary, the album is cohesive and works as a collection that brings listeners to an immersive dreamscape as if floating in a dark ocean in space much like the album cover portrays. Wait ‘Til Night is a perfect album to get lost in and just feel some feelings.