2018 release. The Irish guitarist Stevie McLaughlin is better known for his riff attacks with the Irish metal band, Sandstone. The band has recorded four albums so far, one of which - the highly respected debut Tides Of Opinion - will be digitally released for the first time along with this album. Now, in order to live out his full musical sphere, something he is unable to do when playing with the band, the talented guitarist, songwriter and singer has recorded his first solo effort. Toy Empires delivers ten songs which act as a colorful bouquet of flowers. Versatile, emotional and of the highest technical standard, but basically always close to the heavy metal genre, Stevie McLaughlin is spot on, right down the line. Apart from the technically perfect guitar parts, melodies and harmonies are important components of this album. But also songs with a large portion of prog influences, such as 'Apocrapha' makes the listener sit up, and whilst listening to the groovy, impressive numbers such as 'Immortal Rose' it is impossible to sit still. On the other hand, the title track is exemplary melodic, tight heavy metal with clean lines of melody. Stevie McLaughlin's vocals are pleasantly unobtrusive, yet also concise. On 'Toy Empires' all the musical fragments fit together to a perfect whole, pleasing the listener with it's cleanly arranged, melodic metal songs, and further recommending itself with it's strong, great melodies and classical guitar parts.