Album Review: Empire State Bastard – Rivers Of Heresy

By Jay Mitchell
By September 1, 2023 Album, Reviews

Straying away from arena rock and venturing into the heaviest corners of metal, Simon Neil and Empire State Bastard blow you away from the first second. With Biffy Clyro members Simon Neil and Mike Vennart at the heart of the band, Bitch Falcon’s Naomi Macleod on bass and thrash metal legend/ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo complete the line-up for the band’s debut album.

From the start you’re instantly hit with a barrage of drums and guitars. Opener “Harvest” kicks off with a riff reminiscent of Metallica’s St.Anger sound, and I know that might instantly turn you off but stick with it. From there “Harvest” builds into a frantic metal anthem bursting with chunky riffs and screamed vocals.

“Moi?” starts slower before building into a huge chugging bridge section. Each song offering something different, “Moi?” appears as the third song on the album and by that point you’ve already been blown to pieces by the band and it isn’t slowing down from here.

“Tired, Aye?” features Lombardo hammering on his drum kit in true Lombardo fashion. Screamed vocals are a mainstay throughout the album and this track is no different for the most part except for some backing vocals during the chorus offering a little respite.

“Sons And Daughters” has a Black Sabbath feel to the guitar, with the riffs feeling like they’ve pulled straight out of Tony Iommi’s head. Still keeping to the Sabbath feel, even the lyrics feel like they could’ve been taken from a Black Sabbath with a political theme.

More Lombardo to open “Stutter”, after blasting through the intro your greeted with more Simon Neil screams. The drums on this one stand out as the most signature Dave Lombardo of the whole album giving it a Slayer sound, especially during the bridge.

‘Palms Of Hands’ has a punk vibe to it. Kicking in, it has a hardcore edge while still managing to keep the classic punk sound intact even with the vocal style not exactly being your typical classic punk sound.

‘Dusty flips the album on its head slowing things completely down for a verse before they continue their assault on your ears. With ‘Dusty’ lacking speed, they make up for it instantly with ‘Sold!’ picking up where they left off. An onslaught of metal, ‘Sold!’ is a definite highlight of the album.

Closing with the longest song on the album, ‘The Looming’ starts off slow and builds into an epic closing to the album. Another stand out from the album, ‘The Looming’ is less extreme sounding than a lot of the album but still packs the same punch that even the most extreme tracks have.

Rivers Of Heresy takes you on a 35 minute journey through all dimensions of metal. With elements of thrash, doom and extreme metal all present throughout the album, it is guaranteed to offer everyone who listens something. With band members who by this point are veterans within music, expectations were high but Empire State Bastard have delivered. Whether it is a one off album or the start of something bigger, Rivers Of Heresy is the perfect gateway for anyone wanting to get into the more extreme side of metal.