[Review] Westward – The Empire of Deception

In what can best be described as listening to a Patrick Nagel reprint, Westward’s powerful tribute to the wake of rock inspired by Matthew Bellamy is an intoxicatingly ambitious effort on The Empire of Deception. Though the SLC boys may bill themselves as cowboy space music a more apt may be Valkyrie-braised rock raised near the Alamo.

Vocalist and guitarist Andrew C. Michael (assuming a very 80’s-sounding moniker) has all the bravado one could ask for in a front man, – naturally, he must flaunt that talent. “The Last Stand” affords Michael the opportunity to hit those heavenly high notes and take command of the power trio that is Westward – before drummer Matt Morrison catches up to Michael, that is. Following true fashion of the musicians three, the record allows room for all parties to bounce around and show off their respective chops underneath a winningly preposterous set of imagery.

Thematically, “Force and Matter” fits the record’s yuppie-era prediction of a steampunk dystopia vibe, but “Time” is where The Empire of Deception takes a turn most metal. While not inherently a Sabbath moment, “Time” demonstrates the sweeping and headbanging qualities that Westward had in ‘em all along. Look no further than the track’s bouncy Brian May-esque solo to see where the true enthusiasm lies.

Though the latter half of the album might veer too closely into a mid 00’s pastiche of composition book lyrics, The Empire of Destruction can still stand on the merits of its brilliantly bombastic first leg of the journey. Westward ho.

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