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Westward: The Empire of Deception

Westward
The Empire of Deception
(Westward)

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Are you ready for “Cowboy Space Rock?” Well, ready or not it’s coming at you on this fantastic new release from Westward with Andrew C. Marshall on lead vocals/lead guitar, Matt Morrison on drums, and Karl Grimm on bass and backing vocals.

Sweeping strings and spoken intro flow into equally slow vocals, introducing us to the “Empire of Deceptionopening title track. Things don’t stay slow though. The band starts rockin’ on this one right quick! Space rock bleeps and power chords groove into “Enchantment” next, the first tune where we hear Marshall’s semi-operatic vocals and the band really starting to wail.

“Machines’ follows with its guitar noodling and Marshall managing more of his high warble, and yet again the trio gets things moving deep and heavy. “Force and Matter” has Grimm pushing things along (he plays the most simple yet effective bass parts) while Marshall channels Freddie Mercury.

“Time” opens with heavy hits and smashing cymbals that quickly lead into single-echo guitar flights and tom toms, and what might be Marshall’s best vocal. Queen-like maneuvers (with Grimm helping out on backing vocals) add to one of the two most progressive tracks here, roiling drums and bass, again with those wild high vocal flights, plus an ending of wild guitar trills, make “Risk Factor 5” another gem.

“Defiance,” the big anthem here (built around that single note guitar arpeggio) provides Marshall screams and heavy stomp with hope nearly ending the ablum. The last tune, “Fall From The Sky,” does that, a classical guitar love lament. What a way to end a really smart bunch of music with a rich scope of intent and hard well-written songs. Westward’s Empire Of Deception is a winner.

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