Bombast reigns on When Empires Burn, the fourth, heaviest, loudest and best solo album from British singer Bob Catley. Liberally lifting influences from Asia, Queen, Dio, Meatloaf and his old (and now new again) band Magnum, Catley ditched Ten frontman Gary Hughes as songwriter and put his longtime keyboard player Paul Hodson to work writing these 11 tracks. The result is the freshest the singer has sounded in years, perhaps dating back to Magnum's On A Storyteller's Night from 1985.
His smoky smooth voice permeates such songs as "My America," "Someday Utopia" and "The Prophecy," while over-the-top backing vocals lift "Children of the Circle," "Gonna Live Forever" and "I'll Be Your Fool" to arena-ready status. Even the ballads – "Every Beat of My Heart" and "Meaning of Love" – sound as if they're ready to burst. Screaming guitars, majestic keyboards and a churning rhythm section add attitude, flair and depth.
Catley has gone on record calling When Empires Burn his heavy metal album, stating that this is the disc he's always wanted to make. I'm going on record asking Catley what took him so long.