14 October 2017 (released)
18 September 2017
Westward tread a fine line between the whimsical meanderings of prog rock and the steadfast direction of current arena rock chart toppers, all woven together with an overarching sense of grandeur. Their subject matter is heady, the drums and guitars fuse together into a force of reckoning, and their anthemic choruses ring out to the rafters of the stadium. Comparisons to brit prog heavyweights Muse come easy and they are definitely warranted. Their brand of futuristic slick-yet-grungey rock is not made successfully by many others. On their latest LP The Empire of Deception, the power trio have crafted a sprawling and damning concept album that also finds moments of delightful levity.
With flourishes of fantastical and ominous synthesizers, the opener and title track 'Empire of Deception' introduces you to Westward's story with phantasmagorical voice-over quotes and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Marshall's tenor slowly building to rock opera heights. Long dramatic guitar strums pave the way for the theatrics to come. 'Enchantment' follows with the promised riffage from the fuzzed out bass of Karl Grimm joined soon enough by Marshall's heavy, verbed guitar. His voice floats seamlessly into falsetto like an eagle caught in an updraft, echoing into eternity. The lead single 'The Last Stand' sets out with a more casual bossa nova, teasing at the epic through the verses. As the chorus is invoked, Marshall bellows out “Your power, your power will fall/Your towers will crumble and fall”, spelling out the doom of the oligarchy. The sentiment parallels that of Muse's defiant hit, 'Uprising'.
One of the major standouts is the enigmatic 'Time', a song that trades off merry-go-round verses of jaunty guitars and furious Sabbath riffing. The old cliche chorus “Time waits for no one” is given new life, while the airy lyrical solo is in good company with the work of Brian May. The closer 'Fall From the Sky' sheds the thick waves of distortion and synthesis for a stripped down acoustic lullaby to lay us to rest under a twinkling sky of satellites.
The Empire of Deception is rich, it's audacious, it's gripping. It espouses revolution and indicts the ruling powers, proving that you can still question the powers that be in a suit and tie. With this album, Westward have created an impressive and innovative piece of 21st-century progressive pop rock.