The Empire Shall Fall
Awaken


3.0
good

Review

by HSThomas USER (33 Reviews)
March 19th, 2010 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Chaos Theory in disc form.

The Empire Shall Fall, the band formed in the wake of the dissolution of Seemless, has been a band that has garnered a great amount of attention over the past year and a quarter. The attention has been garnered due to the debut effort, Awaken.

Two things that can be said about Awaken when the eponymous track first plays, one; this is not Killswitch Engage, other than, Jesse Leach's screams and the use of electric distortion of Jesse Leach's vocals such as within the opening of Voices Forming Weapons, it is a chaotic Meshuggah hamburger wrapped in the crinkled brown paper of Hardcore. The second point; Jesse Leach is back to what he does best; screaming down crowds, stadiums and, of course, empires.

Jesse Leach's vocals are one of the highlights of this album. The Meshuggah influence can be seen within them, he replicates the rhythmic quality of Jens Kidman's guttural roars with cries of "THIS IS - AN UNSEEN WAR OF WORDS!!" to the guitars within Voices Forming Words. However unlike the "pissed off robot"* Jesse Leach varies his vocals throughout from clean vocals to shouts, screams and spoken word. This vocal spectrum is culmination of his career's work so far and he plays merry hell with it, Choir of Angels' transfer from shouts to spoken word to screams is prime example of this. However his vocals are not without fault, at points his shouts do not sound so much as powerful or rhythmic but like the cry of a petulant teenager. This can be in part put down to the lyrics but more on that later.

Likewise as with the vocals the guitars of Jake Davenport and Marcus De Lisle are varied ranging from jagged and merciless to singular and melodic. They are chaos incarnate, for example within Awaken, they taking a base riff and torture it through slow, fast, whistful and tribal rhythm sections. They work in synchronicity with the rest of the instruments to create the varied moods that work through the songs, transferring from dark static riffs that are exentuated by the bass to mournful guitars. The exchanges work at points in beautiful harmony, Choir of Angels being the greatest example of this where the second and third quarters of the song together almost seemlessly (no pun intended) to create an example of mournfal mood of the fallen exploding into irate rage against the government. However there are points of Meshuggah worship that detract, particularly the fourth part of Awaken, it builds to a blistering end before descending into a slow-chugg. Similarly the addition of Acrid Placidity style Jazz fusions does not always work, the end of Choir of Angels is an example of this where the guitar trails off in a listless fashion. It feels not so much composed but more as if the band was panicking in whispers about what to actually do within those last few minutes. The Meshuggah style that permeats this album also detracts from the originality, The Kingdom is a guitar pastiche of the most influential works of Meshuggah's discography including riffs ripped straight from Future Breed Machine and Stengah.

The bass is another complaint. Like many bands it is something that is pushed to the back and left to collect dust. Within this it does exentuate the guitars and also the mood but that is all it really does; exentuate, nothing else. It never truly shines on its own and when it is given a chance it is only used within aimless jazz fusions.

Drummer Jeff Pitts is given a more positive performance within this. Like the other instruments it enhances the moods but it comes into its own with the varied style, particularly seen within The Kingdom and Our Own where the drums change from repetitive robotic pounding to staccato blasts from a machine gun to singular taps of the cymbals. All of the drumkit is fully used to push forward the instruments in particular the vocals as from 2:31 to 3:25 of The Kingdom, the vocals are played along to drums that create a sense of desolation from the lyrics.

The lyrics are one of the more varied parts of the album. At times they are powerful and bring the mouring and rawness out of Jesse Leach's vocals. Choir of Angels is a good example, at one point, the lyrics preach of a "city in ruins" that Jesse Leach speaks to create an image of the dying embers of an inferno and evoke memories of 9/11. This quickly explodes into screeches of "MURDERERS! BETRAYERS!" The contrast of lyrics and vocals creates this scene. However at other points in the same song, the lyrics become too preachy, even condescending as seen when they call upon the Constitution for every person to stand up for themselves. It is more likely to inspire ire than support. Similarly the preachiness pushes the vocals into the upper regions as aforementioned and the shouts become De La Roché imitating whines. The lyrics also tire of repetition at points with the constant appeals to "Where is our Democracy?!" within both These Colours Bleed and The Kingdom, the appeals at first are wrathful but descend into a tiresome mantra.

Overalll this is a good, in places impressive, album that shows a promise for a powerful fusion of performance and creativity. However for this to be pulled off there needs to be a constistency of originality and quality within all songs, something that with the talent on show should be possible. This is just a wish though as it is a long road for the band. Hopefully from the ashes of their past and this album, within the next album, the band can truly awaken.

*the quote comes from Josh Fountain's review of Meshuggah's Alive.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
March 19th 2010


16186 Comments


I actually just listened to these guys through their Myspace today. The KSE news reminded me that wanted to. You do a good job of describing this and this is definitely good (based on the one time I listened to it).

Digging: Moonspell - Extinct

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2010


31779 Comments


Great album. I'd hate the lyrics if it wasn't for Jesse singing them

Digging: Phace - Shape The Random

bloc
March 19th 2010


35191 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This sucked. I had fairly high expectations because of the decency of old KSE but fuuuuuuuuuu

Willie
Moderator
March 19th 2010


16186 Comments


Just keep writing, and pay attention to flow and word usagae/repeating.

bloc
March 19th 2010


35191 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

So boring man. Sounded like anything I've ever heard before and the songs were just too long to endure.

Phantom
March 19th 2010


8930 Comments


I remember hearing a couple of this band's early tracks on their Myspace I think. Yeah, they were boring.

Willie
Moderator
March 19th 2010


16186 Comments


They're just a bit slower than his work with Killswitch, but it didn't seem bad. To HST, just e-mail them to me and I can do it if I have time.

Inveigh
March 19th 2010


25406 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

as usual, I agree with Deviant. Lyrics are almost cringe-worthy at times, and the music can get a little generic (especially early in the album), but it's just good to hear Jesse screaming again.

Digging: Thou / The Body - You, Whom I Have Always Hated

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2010


31779 Comments


Prepare for spam buddy. Something about this album I just really like. I know it's relatively generic and far from re-inventing the wheel or anything, but at the same time it feels like a refreshing take on things

Willie
Moderator
March 19th 2010


16186 Comments


Ha ha, it's only used for sputnik and it's already posted on my forum profile page anyway.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2010


31779 Comments


Thanks, Deviant, anything I can do about the spam? Sorry I'm just new to the site.


Don't worry man, just meant I was going to/about to spam Willie

ninjuice
March 19th 2010


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

When I saw this on the front page I was worried somebody reviewed this with the same rating.



I think these guys honestly have the potential to match Alive or Just Breathing if they just cut down on the chugg and do more interesting stuff musically.

Willie
Moderator
March 19th 2010


16186 Comments


I'm hoping that they don't have the chance because Killswitch is going to boot whats-his-fuck and bring Jesse back.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2010


31779 Comments


My big problem with this album are the song lengths

ninjuice
March 19th 2010


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Good point. I'm just not sure whatever good KSE have left can be salvaged.

sexpoi
March 26th 2010


599 Comments


i think he would make them heavier again. I really liked Alive or Just Breathing and im listening to this right now and it's actually kinda cool. but yeah, lyrics are somewhat laughable at times

Inveigh
March 26th 2010


25406 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm not sure Jessie would make them heavier, and I'm also not sure heaviness is the problem anyways. More like a lack of innovation and evolution.

sexpoi
March 30th 2010


599 Comments


very true but Killswitch is so known for that sound that i dont think they will ever change...To me, now it just seems like they are doin it to cash in and u can kinda tell on their newest album cuz it sounds quite uninspired and recycled. This band's not too bad tho, i dug some of the tracks, but i thought it coulda used some innovation tho

CruelBloom
April 2nd 2010


26 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Never liked KSE, but I'm really digging this album. Very energetic, and I love the Meshuggah influence.

Ray91
April 5th 2010


150 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I´m soooo damn excited to chec out this album,because I loved the two first KSE record and I´m so dissappointed with their current direction.

Jesses voice is just brilliant



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