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Course Of Empire

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The Dallas, TX, band Course of Empire -- guitarist Mike Graff, vocalist Vaughn Stevenson, drummers Chad Lovell and Michael Jerome, and bassist Paul Semrad -- offers heavy metal with a thoughtful, politically aware message. The group recorded a pair of albums for the Zoo Entertainment label (their self-titled debut and the sophomore Initiation), but was left without a label when Zoo went under. COE was able to spread their message-filled music by opening for the likes of Prong and Sister Machine Gun. The group wisely decided to build their own studio with the money put aside for their third Zoo album (which would have been completely lost in the shuffle), and waited it out until the right record company presented itself. TVT Records eventually signed the band and released their best and most consistent album, Telepathic Last Words, in late 1997 (many fans outside the Dallas area thought the group had broken up, due to their lengthy absence). Like its predecessor, Telepathic Last Words dealt with conspiracy theories and America's growing obsession with secret plots and treachery. And since it was produced by John Fryer (Nine Inch Nails, Gravity Kills), a slight techno edge was added to COE's trademark metal. ~ Greg Prato

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