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Bob Catley When Empires Burn Frontiers Records
FRCD150
Produced By: Paul Hodson

Running Time: 57.13

Release Date: May 26

Released: EU

Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock

Links: Frontiers Now & Then Magnum
97%
Songs: 99%
Sound: 97%
Without a doubt this is Bob Catley's strongest solo outing to date and also ranks as the best collection of songs he has performed since Magnum's heyday. It not only beats Bob's 3 other excellent solo albums, but also betters the last couple of Magnum and Hard Rain records.
This is going to be an essential purchase of any Catley/Magnum fan and in the long run, a bloody hard album to top.
After serving him well, a rest was needed from the songs and production style of Ten's Gary Hughes. He was responsible for the material and sound of Bob's first three studio albums. Time for a change. But who would replace the very big shoes of Mr. Hughes? In steps Paul Hodson, familiar to Bob in Hard Rain and connected also to Gary Hughes from his new role as keyboardist in Ten.
Paul's got his own style and vision and from hearing this, I must deduct that it is perfectly suited to Bob's talents.
In fact, the material here only serves to further increase Bob's stature and make both of them look good - or even better than they already are. It will certainly do a lot for Paul's stature.
The union that has been formed here will be one that fans will appreciate and is more likely than ever to recruit new fans into the Bob Catley fan club.
The style of When Empires Burn is more traditional British melodic hard rock. Yes, it's heavy in places, but not too far removed from what the previous solo albums have offered.
It's not one thing that makes this album so good, but a combination of the vital factors needed to come together to make a classic album.
The dark and heavy rockers are complimented by breezy mid-tempo AOR anthems and those are complimented with some slower moody ballads. It's just a very cohesive collection of songs.
Gone are any signs of a concept record (thank God), plus there are no references to dragons or castles and there is a true sense of freshness to the record.
The production and mix are fabulous. Everything is easily audible, even on the heavier, more complex numbers. The songs are varied in style, yet all are filled with glorious vocals and harmonies, not to mention hooks that are easier to come by than a brand new tackle box.
The album importantly features a full cast including Al Barrow, Vince O'Regan and Jamie Little, not to mention Paul and of course Bob.
This helps the sonics of the album, which is clearly major label quality. The band deserve a lot of credit for making the material sound so good.
Track By Track:
The Torment is a tasteful 90 second itro that sets up the album. Builds the tension nicely!
The intro flows into the opening track Children Of The Circle, which is equally dominated by keyboard swirls and guitar riffs, but above all, features a dramatic chorus featuring Bob in full flight, surrounded by lush harmony vocals. The song is a dark and heavy track, made lighter by keyboard fills and Bob's always melodic-friendly tones.
Gonna Live Forever lifts the tempo further. A simple delicious intro just gets better as the song runs from one sweet vocal hook to the next. This is a great rocker and the chorus is Bob at his anthem best.
The Prophecy changes the pace of the album without interrupting the flow. This is a dark and heavy and somewhat dramatic track, with a very strong Catley vocal - pushing his voice harder than I have heard in some time. Once again the chorus is strong, although remaining fairly embedded within the song itself.
I'll Be Your Fool changes the pace again - this time it's a lighter and a seemingly more breezy feel good uptempo rocker, with more vocal hook magic from Bob in the strong verses and a big fists-in-the-air bridge-to-chorus refrain. Add layers of keyboards and harmony vocals and you get something reminiscent of Magnum at their best.
Every Beat Of My Heart is the album's big power ballad. The song is moodier and heavier than it's predecessor, but in a traditional rock ballad pace. Another strong lead vocal performance in the songs verse is only bettered by another great (big) chorus.
When Empires Burn signals a return to the heavier and more dramatic style of the album's opening tracks. Yet another strong chorus and another song that like the rest of the album, stands on it's own merits.
Things slow down again for the ballad Meaning Of Love. Once again, the song is perfectly placed, as the album's slow continues perfectly. The song starts slow and pretty laid back, but builds to the feel good sing-along chorus.
This Is The Day turns the album on it's head again, with the heaviest track of the album, filled with dramatic keyboard flurries and some heavy guitar riffs. Bob's really pushing his voice to great effect and the song works well without any big chorus.
Someday Utopia continues the heavy path of the last song, but picks the tempo up another notch! Now Bob's really going for it and doesn't hold back on the excellent chorus. Possibly one of the fastest tempo'd track of Bob's career?
What better to follow that double headed riff fest than a slower paced and Celtic inspired track in My America. This is familiar to some elements of Bob's previous solo records, but once again features a tighter production quality, stronger hook value and overall sense of majesty.
And so ends the album - regular format. The first pressing will be a digi-pack limited edition with two bonus tracks.
Those are - Heaven Can Wait*, a feel good, mid-tempo pop rocker similar to I'll Be Your Fool. And When The Earth Lies Still (demo)* - a soft piano ballad that has a haunting vocal and strong sentimental streak.

The Bottom Line
A bloody great album, no less. Bob's strongest vocal effort for years, the best set of songs for years and a production and sound quality that a major label would be proud of.
Magnum and Catley fans will be in hog heaven without doubt and I dare say that the soundbytes should encourage new fans into the fold. Dramatic, heavy and also melodic, full of hooks and harmonies that do the melodic rock scene proud.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
The Tower
Official Bootleg (Live)
Legends
Middle Earth
When Empires Burn

Line Up
Bob Catley: Vocals
Paul Hodson: Keyboards
Vince O'Regan: Guitar
Jamie Little: Drums
Al Barrow: Bass

Essential for fans of:
Bob Catley
Magnum
Track Listing
The Torment
Children Of The Circle
Gonna Live Forever *
The Prophecy
I'll Be Your Fool *
Every Beat Of My Heart *
When Empires Burn
Meaning Of Love
This Is The Day
Someday Utopia *
My America
Heaven Can Wait*
When The Earth Lies Still (demo)*
--*Best Tracks


25/01/05: Mark Kennedy - Clareandmark@freenetname.co.uk
Rating: 95
Emotion,passion,power..this album has got it all.It's good to see that that the guitars and the keyboards are parallel with each other and working together ,as opposed to one being more prominent than the other.
A great album similar to the first solo album and in terms of quality up there with 'On a Story..','Wings..' and 'Goodnight L.A.'.
Although I think Gary Hughes is a fantastic rock writer/singer,I think that Paul Hodson has brought something fresh and healthy to the Bob Catley camp this time.
Brilliant !!

17/11/04: Big Mike - bigmike@hotmail.com
Rating: 85
Pretty good album on par with Legends and easily better than the tower or middle earth. Has the same layed guitar/synth sound that he is famous for. Children of the circle/i'll be your fool/when empires burn/my america are all great melodic rock songs. This album shits the new magnum sound and most of todays music.

20/07/04: Ali - alistairc_2000@yahoo.co.uk
Rating: 99
Excellent album from the Voice! Well worth picking up if you like epic sounding melodic rock.

14/07/04: Micke - micke_016@hotmail.com
Rating: 99
I think this is one of the best melodic rock albums in years, is just a couple who can fight against this.
Bob Catley could not find a better songwriter for his record. When empires burns is his best solo record. And the production is perfect, could not get a better production I think?

This is a must buy! if you like melodic rock and not have this in your collection it could never been completed.

02/02/04: Pete Lakin - dlakin@btconnect.com
Rating: 90
I gotta admit..I kinda bought this out of curiosity..I'd heard a few mp3 snippets & what I heard sounded bloody superb. I had the pleasure of workin with "Sir Bob of Catley" late 2002/& Early 2003 when he recorded some extra Backround Vox on my bands debut album (Double Cross : Time After Time).A wonderful guy to work with & to be honest...one hell of a singer.With regard to the album..Hodsen really knows his stuff, a great keyboard player & songsmith, I think between the two they have recorded Bobs finest of solo albums & is a superb match for both artists. There isn't a weak song on here & it has been beautifully produced.It also Rocks like a beast.

It's a must buy for fans of classy AOR/Hard Rock.

Cheers,

Pete

08/11/03: Stacey - drummergal624@aol.com
Rating: 100
This album totally rocks. The production is excellent. This CD is definitly one of my desert island CD's.

30/10/03: Hanuk Baac - temporarily unavailable (Seoul, Korea)
Rating: 98
After numerous spins, I can finally say that this is the album of the year. My expectations were not high. I didn't like his previous "Middle Earth" much. Gary Hughes wasn't available this time either because of his rigorous shedules. And I didn't know what to expect from Paul Hodson albeit he's a proven keyboard player, but he hasn't proven anything as a songwriter. My jaws dropped when I checked out! Paul Hodson is TALENTED. How come this guy could be unknown! This is heavier than any of Bob's previous efforts and also one of his best. Bob shines on heavier songs like Children of the Circle and Someday Utopia and he's great as usual on melodic hard rock tracks like Every Beat of My Heart, Gonna Live Forever and I'll be Your Fool. There's not a bad song on this album and bonus tracks Heaven Can Wait and When The Earth Lies Still are also too good to just be left off as bonus material. Songs are extremely catch, heavy enough to satisfy even fans of power metal and will appeal to everyone who's interested in good melody in general.

22/08/03: freddy de keyzer - freddydekeyzer@hotmail.com
Rating: 84
Don't think this man has ever released a bad record. What we get from Bob is always quality. Support this great guy as much as you can by buying his great record !

11/08/03: Peter - peter@ringtail.fsnet.co.uk
Rating: 75
Some really inspiring music, but unfortunately suffers from the curse of so many AOR albums, poor lyrics. Too often they aim for portentousness and significance, but just fall flat on their face. Not a problem from the pen of Tony Clarkin, of course.

21/07/03: Jim Gorman - jgorman826@ao
Rating: 99
Best melodic rock CD I have listen to in quite a while....everything on this CD is great....Heavier, more full sounding, with better melodies and instrumentation than his other solo efforts, which were also highly rated (deservedly so). Just buy it..it's a no brainer. I listened to this CD right after Royal Hunt's Eyewitness, which might account in some degree for my low mark on RH's CD....No comparison.
j

11/07/03: Nicodim - nicodim-r@mail.ru
Rating: 95
A HUGE ONE! Never heard such a heavy Bob Catley! Best of his solo efforts no doubt and one of the best, if to compare with Magnum classics! No more sweety commercy from Gary Hughes and there is no losers at all. Everybody wins: Bob, who recorded the best album in years;
fans, who get the beautiful release in their arms;
and, finally,... critics :-) they simply need to forget all of the humiliating words and to remember how to praise up the legends! He-he...
My personal favourite from the album is "My America". I like it a lot, because it reminds me of one very special epic from great release of former Europe's members - "Clockwise". I mean the song called "A tales of KING SOLITUDE". Great one...

19/06/03: Stuart - Hanntastic@aol.com
Rating: 90
Everything you may have read about this one is true, it has certainly re-kindled my interest in Bob`s solo career, Paul Hodson has played exactly to Bob`s strengths with a strong set of songs,great band performances and production.An album with real direction,passion and style.......can they top it next time?

19/06/03: Andy Hawes - andy.sixstring@ntlworld.com
Rating: 95
Absolutely stunning! This is Bob's best solo stuff ever. No more tired, second rate Gary Hughes songs (far too many of these on the other solo albums!)Paul Hodson has written some cracking material and the production is HUGE! Fave tracks? I'll Be Your Fool, Meaning Of Love, Someday Utopia and Heaven Can Wait. Oh...Did I forget to mention the guitars...??? Shredding!! Great solos from Vince O'Regan. If you like heavy European melodic rock, you GOTTA buy this album!!!

17/06/03: Mike Matney - matneym@yahoo.com
Rating: 99
As everyone knows I'm a huge Magnum/Bob Catley fan so any review I give will sound biased. But this is overall the best of all of Bob's solo releases. It's also the heaviest album that Bob has ever done. Bob's vocals are as great as ever but the songs and musicianship really shine. Paul Hodson has put written a fantastic collection of songs and Vince O'Reagan, Al Barrow, Paul Hodson and Jamie Little deliver on the music. The music reminds me of a cross between Magnum, Dio, Europe and Ten. If you've like any of Bob's previous efforts I think you will love this. But don't take my word for it, buy it!

15/06/03: Thomas - thomas.holmer@telia.com
Rating: 99
Simply the best solo album.. Great tunes and a voice performance that blows me away. Bob's voice like vine, just better over the years...
Thanks

15/06/03: WILJAN - WILJA@LESSTHANUSUAL.COM
Rating: 99
iNDEED,!!!
This album rocks your socks of you feet

really fucking better than the other 3!!!!!

15/06/03: Mike - mikerowberry@aol.com
Rating: 95
I first saw Bob when Magnum supported Judas Priest about 1000 years ago when Kingdom Of Madness was just out! Since then I've seen and met the guy more times than I can remember.

I will always buy his stuff, but this one is even better than most. It's a welcome change from his previous solo efforts, although they were generally good, and it's certainly better than the last Magnum CD (sacrilege I know!).

If you don't know how wonderful this guy is, then get "On a Storyteller's Night", "Vigilante" or "Wings Of Heaven" by Magnum. If you do, simply buy this.

After that, get the Magnum DVD "A Winter's Tale" - simply stunning.

12/06/03: frytz - frytzsdmf@gmx.net
Rating: 100
this is just too good to be true......this is the perfect bob catley album! every song is just awesome! I just love this voice! If you like Magnum you gotta have this CD!!! Go get it!!


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