New Zealand-born, Toronto-based trio of brothers, Emperors Night, has arrived on the music scene with a small collection of intriguing songs that opens the door to an unfettered, original sound. Releasing their independent debut EP Driving At Pace back in November, as well as a music video for the title track, the Chalmers brothers — consisting of Anand (guitars, production), Bud (vocals, piano) and Dhyan (vocals, bass) — have put together a beautifully weird album to close out a year that maybe wasn’t so much beautifully weird as it was an absolute, chaotic mess of fucking insanity.
The Emperors Night brothers have always had music in their veins, writing songs together from basically day one.
And, by late 2019, the guys had put in work, building up a 21-song set of original music. However, on the east coast of Australia where the band had been living at the time, there weren’t too many places to perform and show off the songs they had worked so hard to put together. So, they set their eyes and ears on North America, traveling with high hopes for the coming year… and then, the world stopped. With live music at a standstill and no way of knowing when/if the industry would start up again, also stuck in Toronto due to travel restrictions, the brothers made the call to make the best of the situation and commit themselves to recording sessions. All of which took place in the various AirBnB’s they stayed at over the course of the year.
Driving At Pace moves the listener through a wide array of moods and sounds although the one defining trait that links these tracks together is the band’s commitment to equality between the instruments. Everyone gets their turn to shine in the spotlight… more times than not being weaved in, out and around each other, all in perfect harmony. On top of that, Bud and Dhyan go back and forth filling the frontman role providing lead vocals. The album’s title track “Driving At Pace”, which was inspired by various trips the guys have taken all around the world, is a perfect example of the Emperors Night sound. It consists of strong vocal melodies, thoughtful and inspired lyrics, tumbling piano lines, subtle drum beats and distorted guitar riffs that all blend and build on top of one another, soaring high to the last chorus with Dhyan’s vocals rising to meet the crashing music head on.
The second featured track on the EP, “Not A Soul In Sight”, rocks Bud on lead vocals. The song was written just after the COVID-19 lockdown began and was inspired by the eerie emptiness on the streets of downtown Toronto. The track unfolds with a more moody, classic rock style, while still holding strong to the vocals and melodies that make Emperors Night sound so unique. The lyrics convey such a relatable message after the year of solitude so many of us have faced over these rough few months. “I’m trying to find some clarity, to justify disparity. There’s not a soul in sight.” How many of us can relate to that simple sentence? I know I can. The way the song wraps up, it almost feels as if you can hear the frustration of how this year went coming out of Anand in his guitar solo. The last track on Driving At Pace is a song called “Together”, featuring a powerfully distorted guitar and some skilled freeform drumming to start things off. The track slowly builds into something that is truly enjoyable and, dare I say it, is just a cool song. It just works. It’s a fantastic end to a brilliantly done debut EP, introducing Emperors Night to North America in a wonderfully unique way.
Purchase or stream ‘Driving At Pace’ EP:
- Driving At Pace
- Not A Soul In Sight
- Pink Taffeta
- A Midnight Face
Emperors Night – “Not A Soul In Sight” official video:
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.