With a name that sounds like something right out of a Flash Gordon comic, Emperor Chung are certainly displaying a willingness to stand out from the crowd. If the name draws you in then their mascot will surely make your curiosity grow; ‘Chico Chung’ a giant mutant penguin – yes that’s right, a giant mutant penguin complete with rippling muscles and a grimace that Dirty Harry would be proud of! So with a debut album on the verge of being released does their music match their dramatic handle?
A theatrical orchestral section, that could easily be a snippet of Stravinsky’s classical masterpiece ‘The Rite of Spring’, is broken by clap of thunder and a guitar riff that Queens of the Stone Age would be proud of. It’s a great intro to an album and ‘I Vow This Day’ provides us our first chance to sample what Emperor Chung are all about.
‘To Bring Justice’ is a slow burner that chugs like a train being driven by Alice In Chains but with The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins bellowing out above the rumble of the tracks. ‘Downpour’ keeps the train a-rolling but picks the pace up and bags an infectious hook to boot. ‘My Next Foe’ is much of the same but with a beautifully melancholy chorus. ‘Pyramid’ gets a little more aggressive, like a rabid penguin with foaming mouth and murder on the mind.
‘No Mercy’ is my favourite on the album. The guitar hook is so obvious you’d wonder why no one else had thought of it before and the vocals are spot on. ‘The Bloodline’ is another blinding tune with delicate and alluring arpeggios against crunchy riffs with creamy centres. ‘Our Weakness’ dips a toe into Nu-Metal waters on occasion sounding like late-90’s era Korn but it’s never more than little tip of the hat.
‘Victorys Calling’ and ‘Apex’ continue to pile on excellent vocal harmonies and sublime musicianship. ‘Free at Last’ seals the deal, this is officially one of the best albums from an emerging band I’ve heard in a long time.
There’s a myriad of bands going against the mainstream grain of watered-down formulaic rock by heading down the more progressive route. Some of these bands are conversely gaining acclaim by mainstream rock media; ‘Von Hertzen Brothers’ and ‘Riverside’ to name but two, but Emperor Chung are an oddity in such company. With a timeless sound that manages to be both retro and cutting-edge at the same time, Emperor Chung are both decades behind and light years ahead of their peers. Watch out folks because this giant mutant penguin might just take over the world!
01 I Vow This Day
02 To Bring Justice
04 My Next Foe
06 No Mercy
07 The Bloodline
08 Our Weaknesses
09 Victorys Calling
11 Free at Last
Emperor Chung are:
Martin Jackson – Vocals
Danny Beardsley – Guitar, Vocals
Richard Shaw – Guitar
Daniel Hayes – Bass
Eddie Hodgkinson – Drums