2019 brought the arrival of Empyre’s groundbreaking debut Self Aware. Their unique approach, intense feel and atmospheric take on modern rock was met with a justifiably strong reception from industry figures and fans alike.
Like many acts, 2020 was set to be their BIG year, building off the initial impact of their debut album, and hitting the road. Unfortunately, plans have been pushed back for the foreseeable future as we await lockdown restrictions to be lifted.
With time on his hand, EMPYRE’s lead guitarist Did Coles spoke to RUSHONROCK’s Adam Keys about the albums inspiring them during the lockdown. Check out Did’s top 10 quarantine albums below:
Dizzy Mizz Lizzy – Alter Echo
Starting with something fresh and new for 2020. Released on March 20th, 3 days before we went into lockdown here in the UK. I’ve listened to the latest release from these Danish rockers numerous times. Stand out tracks for me are “It’s in the blood”, “The Middle” and “Amelia” which is split into a whirlwind of 5 contrasting songs. They have everything… A massive, atmospheric, epic almost orchestral sound. They are only a 3 piece and their live sound is anthemic that sounds tremendously bigger than just 3 guys! (Check their album Livegasm! out please!) I love their songs, such unique hooks with a killer vocal and guitar playing from frontman Tim Christensen and I’d recommend this album as something new for 2020.
Bryan Adams – MTV Unplugged
We’re big fans of the whole “MTV Unplugged” idea. From albums from artists like Nirvana to Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Korn, and Eric Clapton did one of the best selling ever, and even one I streamed recently… Katy Perry did one! I just love the reinterpretations taking the Acoustic Unplugged approach and how classic songs are reimagined, change into new arrangements, in some cases becoming new songs altogether. Bryan Adams take is upbeat, has some wonderful harmonies, ballads and beautiful instrumental solos (pan flute!) This album has chilled out classics, country rock, soft rock tunes and piano ballads. Loads of variety… Stand out tracks for me are “I think about you”, “Back to You”, “I’m ready” and “The only thing that looks goods on me is you”
Audioslave – Audioslave
This will always be one of my favourite albums ever. One of the most incredible debuts and one of the best collaborations of two supergroups assembling together to create a new band with a game changing sound. Chris Cornell on Vocals and backed by Rage Against The Machine. Incredible and massively influential for me. I was fortunate to see them headline at Download festival in 2003. Tom Morello’s guitar playing, his riffs and creative approaches to effects and soloing really inspire me as a Guitarist. Stand out tracks… The whole album! Essential listening.
Metallica – S & M
One of the biggest metal bands of all time backed by an entire symphony orchestra, that open up the show with “The ecstasy of gold”, one of the main theme tunes from “The good, the bad and the ugly” coincidentally one of my favourite films. Epic. This live album is just that! Dark, haunting, atmospheric, heavy and beautifully fuses hard rock with classical music. I would love to have the London Symphony Orchestra behind Empyre playing our songs for an album. Anyone friends with the conductor?! I never tire of this album and it has been blasted out loud during quarantine. Stand out tracks for me are “The Call of Ktulu”, “Master of Puppets”, “Fuel”, “Until it Sleeps”, “Nothing Else Matters”, “Human” and so many more. Good way to fill 2 hours of the day during lockdown.
Guthrie Govan – Erotic Cakes
Now an instrumental selection. Guthrie is one of my favourite musicians and this is his debut solo album. He’s now a Guitar God applauded throughout the Guitar World for his virtuosity and frightening ability. I met him a few times before his notoriety went through the roof and he’s a really cool chap. Stand out tracks for me are “Waves”, “Erotic Cakes” and “Sevens” but the whole album is a Guitar instrumental masterpiece. Inspires me to practice more!
Pearl Jam – Let’s Play Two
We went to see the Pearl Jam concert film “Let’s Play Two” at the cinema and this is the live album from one of our favourite bands. I know Eddie Vedder is hugely influential for our lead vocalist Henrik as an iconic rock singer and Eddie Vedder’s vocal finesse is on top form throughout. Pearl Jam have been about for decades now but they still sound remarkable at this live show proves that. Stand out tracks for me are “Release”, “Go”, “Better Man” and “Alive” which me and Henrik used to cover back in the day when we were a Rock Covers Band.
Pretty Reckless – Going to Hell
Love this band. Female fronted rock, gritty dark vocals with big rock riffage and loads of energy. Brilliant live too. The dark subject matter inspires me and the contrast between high energy tracks (“Going to Hell”) and the more slow-burner esque tracks (“House on a Hill”) is something that appeals. Very accessible Rock album. Stand out tracks, the aforementioned, “Heaven Knows”, “Why’d you bring a shotgun” and “Waiting for a friend”.
The Cadillac Three – Bury me in my Boots
Country Time! Country music is a huge influence on my taste in music and songwriting, especially the storytelling aspect of the genre. Have seen this band live too. This is a great introduction to some southern rednecks kicking out some feel good, dirty and slick country rock tunes that will lift your spirits during quarantine. Stand out tracks are “Bury in my Boots” (what a riff!), “Slide”, “Party Like You” and “Peace, Love & Dixie”. Highly recommended.
Alanis Morissette – Unplugged
Back to the MTV Unplugged Vibes. I’ve been playing loads of these old albums during quarantine, did I mention Katy Perry’s too?! That is also good. Alanis’ take is a beautiful alternative acoustic take on her back catalogue. Her songs are a perfect fit for acoustic reinterpretations. This is just an album to sit back and chill out too. The musicians are top notch and her voice is sublime. Stand out tracks for me are “You Oughta Know”, “Head over Feet” and the Police cover “King of Pain” which I prefer to the original and I’m a big fan of The Police!
EMPYRE – Self Aware
A surprising recommendation? Shameless self promotion? Essential listening for Rock fans during quarantine?
All of the above. We released “Self Aware” last year and it’s our debut Electric album. If you don’t know about Empyre, haven’t heard our music and want the best introduction to us, then come and see us live…. Well nobody can do that right now! But…. “Self Aware” is the next best thing for us to present our music to you. Available on all streaming platforms, CD available and right now is the perfect opportunity to discover new music for Rock fans. We played acoustic gigs on the unsigned stage before The Eagles, Alter Bridge and Shinedown last year at Birmingham Arena… We’re one door away from reaching that main stage ourselves. If you like our music, feel free to shout about it, share it, spread it everywhere like a virus… Oops… I mean we love our fans and are always looking for new music fans to join our Empyre so if you believe in our music like we do, then go out and broadcast it!
Need some listening inspiration to get you through this lockdown? Why not start with My Bad by EMPYRE?