Empath - Visitor (Fat Possum Records)
Credit: Marie Lin

Empath – Visitor (Fat Possum Records)

Philadelphia noise-punks Empath release their new album Visitor today via Fat Possum Records.  Visitor marks a huge shift for the quartet as it is the first they have recorded with a producer in a formal studio. Jake Portrait (Unknown Mortal Orchestra) is at the controls.

Empath’s sound is difficult to describe, which of course is a complement.  Part industrial, part punk, part noisy guitars full of reverb, part drum beats, part synths and all with the delicious vocals of Catherine Elicson lain over the top.  Visitor includes a number of samples which added to the aforementioned mix gives the album its wonderfully diverse ambient noise.   As Elicson explains:

“Audio was taken from films, minecraft, a cassette of nature sounds from the Bayou, recordings of an air conditioner, and a church choir heard through the walls of the warehouse we rehearse in.  It’s a collage of sounds intended to produce a feeling of hearing life through the walls.”

Lead single is ‘Born 100 Times’, a fabulously chaotic track. With its frenetic instrumental onslaught the vocal provides a melodic overlay which beautifully counterbalances the soundscape.  The punk aesthetic is there but this combination with pop melodies add a twist which gives this track a sound of its own.  Its perhaps the noisiest track on the album but its one you simply want to listen to over and over.


In ‘Diamond Eyelids’ and ‘Corner of Surprise’ there is such an immediate impact.  There is no introduction to the songs, they dive headfirst straight into the track.  Empath don’t follow the rules in song construction.  They have a startling, surprising shift to them.  In ‘Diamond Eyelids’ the guitar riffs and experimental soundscapes combine to entertain the listener.  And is that the door closing at the end!?  ‘Passing Stranger’ has a slightly poppier dancey element but of course with a twist.  The distortions add in the tension towards to the end of the track.


‘House + Universe’ and ’80s’ are garage guitar rock perfect for the moshpit with their high tempo.  ‘Bell‘ is perhaps the most straightforward track on the album, with guitar riffs leading the song and of course those glorious vocals by Elicson.  And with final track ‘Paradise‘ it seems only fitting that Visitor should end with chaos.  This is Empath in all their glory.  A mixture of sounds and paces and with vocals warbling up and down,  the sound they manage to generate is simply divine, and brings to an end a very intriguing album.  It’s all about atmosphere, depth of feelings and flowing in and out of your comfort zone with this latest album by Empath.  And by the way I am not even going to guess what the sound is as ‘Paradise‘ fades out!

“Our approach to songwriting, and what we constantly try to improve upon, is finding the meeting ground between all of our distinct points of view and ideas we are trying to achieve sonically and conceptually,” Elicson says. “We never want to be tied down to one type of song or sound, and we love all kinds of improvisational music. We try to fit everything we love into each song, and hopefully produce something new and exciting through that process of synthesis.”

is released on 11 February 2022 on Fat Possum Records.

For more information on Empath please check out their facebook and bandcamp.


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