A decade ago, Simon Neil and Mike Vennart would be found sitting on the back of the Biffy Clyro tour bus sharing the most extreme, confrontational or just downright twisted music they could find. Simon had always had the name Empire State B lurking in the back of his mind if he ever formed a sickeningly heavy band, leaving Mike with the challenge of writing music that could live up to that moniker.
Now the results are ready to be unleashed with the news that Empire State B will release their debut album ‘Rivers of Heresy’ on September 1st. It comes after the band shared their debut single ‘Harvest’ and completed an instantly sold-out headline tour.
After ‘Harvest’ lays down the gauntlet, ‘Rivers of Heresy’ flows with pure sonic annihilation. Sprawling across the alt-metal landscape, Mike’s songs hit like a full-throttle collab between Siege and Slayer (‘Stutter’, ‘Palm of Hands’), toy between mathy chaos and grindcore ferocity (‘Blusher’, ‘Sold!’) or lurch with slow motion stoner rock menace (‘Sons And Daughters’). The biggest surprise in an eye-opening set comes with ‘Tired, Aye?’, a stripped-back assault of just vocals and drums in the lineage of John Zorn’s Naked City. Delivery morbidly misanthropic lyrics, Simon’s vocals are just as eclectic, stretching from the shrieks and gasps of Mike Patton’s work with Fantomas to guttural death growls that echo Morbid Angelor Mayhem as well as all manner of other grotesque utterances.
As Mike candidly admits, “I set about making the most fucking poisonous vile music I possibly could, just unabridged hatred in musical form.”
Simon adds, “Lyrically, it’s as misanthropic and nihilistic as I’ve ever written.”
It’s a sound which calls for an exemplary drummer, so they called upon the best in the business: Dave Lombardo of Slayer, Testament, Dead Cross and countless other projects. His performances are akin to a runaway train just about staying on the tracks; the propulsive rush of manic fills and fleet-footed double-kicks pulverises and grooves in equal measure. The band are completed for live shows by bassist Naomi Macleod (Bitch Falcon).
‘Rivers of Heresy’ artwork by Daniel P Carter
‘Sons and Daughters’
‘Palms of Hands’
Empire State B will play select international festival dates this summer, including UK shows at Download, Glastonbury and ArcTanGent. The dates are:
9th – UK, Download Festival
15th -UK, Leeds Brudenell Social Club
16th – UK, Cambridge Mash
18th – France, Hellfest
21st-25th – UK, Glastonbury, Earache Takeover
7th – UK, 2000trees Festival
21st – Norway, Malakoff Rockfestival
2nd-5th – Germany, Wacken Open Air
17th – UK, ArcTanGent
15th-17th – USA, Riot Fest