I've been a fan of Gamma Ray for some time. However, during that time, they've always been a band that I had to be in the mood for and then I'd go through long spells with them. Over the years, I've found I've checked out newer material, but never really absorbed it and gravitated back to their classics (IMO No World Order! and earlier). I'm always curious of what they're doing as they're truly one of the top power metal bands.

After many listens, I found myself struggling to come up with concrete feelings on the release. It seems to fall into similar paths of recent albums. Overall, it just seems to plod along and at moments really shine. Unfortunately, those shining moments are hidden in a lot of seemingly filler material. Those parts will pop out and I'll get all pumped up like I do with their great songs, but then they drop it back down to mid tempo boring ranges.

For me, Gamma Ray are at their best when they're off to the races with huge melodies and powerfully catchy choruses, even if they often rip off Judas Priest and that's what a lot of Empire... lacks. The new drummer doesn't do it for me either. His style seems more suited for hard rock/metal rather than power metal.

The album is by no means terrible, it's incredibly solid. It is just absurdly overshadowed by a stronger back catalog. It is perhaps an album that can grow on me as it definitely has it's moments, but then I have to be honest and say I would probably put on Somewhere Out in Space first.