We’re increasingly seeing bands using electronic elements to redefine what we know as metal with new sounds and unconventional approaches. But Irish band Neon Empire are taking that crossover to even higher levels with an “ambitious, adventurous and rule-breaking” electro metalcore sound.
Neon Empire first started as a solo project of guitarist and vocalist Hassan Ali, who took a blank canvas approach to creating an electronic metal sound. He soon added vocalist John Collard, bassist Tom Ambrose and drummer Veronika Švecová to the mix, which took things to whole new levels.
As Tom tells us: “As we’ve added more members, it’s been important to us that the band remains a breeding ground for creativity. Each member brings a unique vision to the table, and we encourage each other to think outside the box. We want to make the best music possible, and having a band full of talented musicians allows us to do that.”
The Dublin-based band describe their sound as “an intense experience,” which is fuelled by a versatile combination of dual clean and screamed vocals, pounding rhythms and filthy low-tuned guitars and soaring synths, along with an inherent ability to mix things up.
On their sound, Tom tells us: “Utilising soaring synth hooks, atmospheric electronic sounds, snarling guitars and unrelenting drums, our goal is to bring unique musical experiences to the listener. On top of this, having two singers ensures that our songs remain engaging and surprising. It gives us the freedom to put the song first, and incorporate any musical elements that will get our point across.
“If you’re looking for music that delivers transcendental, melodic highs before pulling you back down to earth with a brutal low-end, then you NEED to listen to Neon Empire.”
Our latest offering of this is the absolute assault on the senses that is Wrath, which was released just before Christmas. It jumps straight into the good stuff with a cry of “Wrath” then huge screamed vocals under a wall of booming low-tuned guitars and powerful drums. Drawn-out vocals take over as chugging guitars kick in and the intense drums continue with funky synths continue under the vocals “I’ve been feeding my hatred day by day, All my senses they begin to fray, Rage festers like a wound inside of me, Fists clenching as I brace for calamity.”
That flows into a chorus of engaging clean vocals supported by screams, which contains the sinister vocals “I am your devil, Raised from the depths of your underworld, Your creation, Reaping the seeds of hate that you’ve sown.” Another section of heavy vocals drops into a bridge led by heavy drums, before an air raid siren kicks in to add to an atmosphere of absolute chaos.
A huge cry of “In my head, my world burns” gives way to a heavier version of the chorus supported by twinkling synths to bring this huge track to a close.
On the single, Tom says: “We’ve been incredibly happy with how Wrath has been received so far. The single flows through different styles as it progresses, with a less than conventional structure. We were a little worried that our fanbase would be put off by the contrast between the aggressive riffs and anthemic melodies, but we believe that blending these disparate styles together allows the instrumentation to compliment the emotional themes.
“Lyrically, the song is an invitation into a world of primal rage, and this theme has not been lost on our fans or critics. Music can be such a subjective experience, but it’s exhilarating to have listeners pick up on the messages that we’re trying to convey.” Check it out in the awesome video (which contains flashing images) below:
Wrath was preceded by the band’s debut EP Distorted Reality, which was released in June and includes their excellent debut single This Clarity. It opens up with fun soaring synths, which give way to intense screamed vocals over a darting guitar riff and typically lively drums. Chugging chords come in, then flow into an engaging singalong chorus supported by the opening synth. It kicks into overdrive for the faster verse, before a second chorus gives way to huge guttural screamed vocals and more laid-back instrumentals, which continue under a big guitar solo. It’s heavy yet atmospheric at the same time. Check it out in the video below:
That theme of melodic yet incredibly heavy sums up the EP nicely. From the intense The Fallen and superb closing track Distorted Reality to delicious opener Closer To The Light, which features a big singalong chorus, pounding riffs and drums, and a funky guitar solo that feeds into a big atmospheric synth-led conclusion. Check it out in the lyric video here:
The Neon Empire sound takes major influence from the likes of metalcore giants Bullet For My Valentine, Architects and While She Sleeps, plus electro metal pioneers like Crossfaith and Attack Attack! As Tom says: “That’s why we’ve adopted the electro-metalcore tag, we want to pay homage to the heroes that came before us.”
“That being said, we’ve never seen that tag as a constraint to the song writing process. In the past, it represented experimentation and risk-taking, a practice that we want to continue. We may be standing on the shoulders of giants, but we’re here to elevate the genre to even greater heights. I think that’s the most exciting thing about Neon Empire, there is no specific sound that we’re sticking to. We’ll keep pushing the envelope.”
And on what influences them to write music, Tom adds: “I think our style of music lends itself to grand expressions of deep emotions. With so many futuristic elements to the instrumentation, the lyrical themes keep the songs grounded in humanity. For that reason, we explore themes of anger, love, resilience and depression. While the music takes you on a journey, we want the listener to still be able to relate to the vocals.”
Neon Empire are the first of several exciting new Irish bands we’re featuring on the next week or two, which suggests the Irish rock and metal scene is in a great place. Tom tells us: “Honestly, I don’t feel qualified to speak on the topic of the Irish scene. We’ve had the pleasure of performing with some amazing Irish bands like Psychotic Outsider, Peasant to a King & the Risen Dread (to name but a few), but with lockdown restrictions, we haven’t had the chance to really dive into the scene.
“Irish music and storytelling has a rich tradition of charismatic showmanship, and I believe that this lends itself to lively, passionate performances. In my (limited) experience, Irish bands will always deliver a good show.”
Neon Empire have created a stunning sound that perfectly transcends the electro and metal/metalcore genres, which is equally melodic and engaging as it is intense and vicious. And the good news is, they are fully focused on delivering new music for us to enjoy. As Tom explains: “We’re at our best when we have the time to meticulously craft singles and accompanying music videos, so you can expect some ground-breaking music and breath-taking visuals from us this year.”
Listen to Neon Empire and more electro goodness on GigRadar Electro Spotify playlist