Review Summary: Pacing and originality are the biggest downfalls of the album, but don't hate it just yet.
When it comes to Alesana, it can either be a hit or a miss. Many people love to complain about the "whiny" vocals or the concept album idea's they have, but with their newest record, The Emptiness, the band finally finds their true sound. This is yet another concept album release from them, but the story behind the album is actually interesting. It tells the story of a man who, very quickly, loses his mind after the murder of his wife. It's set in older times and the songs span the things he see's in the mirrors, to the mass murdering spree he goes on in the middle of a local pub. The band attempts to experimet with different sounds and techniques, using a narrative in between some select songs helps tell the story a little better, there is alot more violins and instrumental moments here than other albums, most of them are used to improve the sound a little bit. The bands creativity has definitely improved with The Emptiness, but they are the same old Alesana, and this is far from a perfect record.
This album can either grow on you, or it can just increase your hate for the band. This is the bands 3rd full length record, it's certainly the most polished one of them all, but the bands first full length release, On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax, is the best album they have yet to release. The Emptiness is a breath of fresh air after the horrendous Where Myth Fades to Legend, but this band could do so much more. The Emptiness opens with "Curse of the Virgin Canvas", in which our narrative voice explains what to expect from the album, and then the song begins. The song begins fairly simple, a short guitar riff that leads into the opening verse. Guitarist/clean vocalist Shawn Milke has had not the slightest voice change, he is known for his higher pitched whine, as people love to call it. He can either sound good, or sound horrible, it really depends on the sound of the song, but don't expect anything different from him at all.
Screaming vocalist Dennis Lee has also not gone through a single change, he has this really intense high scream that blares through the speakers, and after awhile, it really can hurt your ears. I was happy to see his range through the album, going from extremely high to half decent lows. This is the first song that really shows the amount of extra instrumental sounds they have added, the violin jumps in at a few moments, and though it works, there is a point where it just gets overdone. "The Artist" picks up the pace alot, it's a fast paced song right from the start. The song explains our main character attempting to hide the bodty of his dead wife. It's a better song than "Curse of the Virgin Canvas", just becaus of the increase in pace. Alesana has experimented alot more with their sound and has been trying tons of new things, in "A Lunatics Lament", the band creates a catchy, slower song. The female listeners of the album may find themselves more fond of this song then any, it's a softer, lighter side of Alesana that really works.
"The Murderer" is my personal favorite track off of the album, it's fast, heavy and features the best breakdown of the album. Alesana lightened up when it came to breakdowns, there are only about 2 or 3 on the album, and they are not your basic, average breakdown. This is not an extremely creative song, but it works. At times, this album seems to have some really awkward pace changes, going from "The Murderer" to "Hymn For the Shameless" just doesnt work for me. The song features some heavier moments, but the overall song just doesnt fit together right. The worst song on the album is "Heavy Hangs the Albatross", in which the band does this weird slow down in the chorus, and though it fits with the overall sound of the record, I couldnt stand this song after he first listen. The last four songs off the album seem to do a good job of closing the album. "The Lover" is a well made love story, and "To Be Scared By an Owl" continues that love story, both helping in leading to the final song of the album.
"Annabel" is the name of the wife in which our character has murdered. At 7 minutes long, "Annabel" is an almost perfect closing song, if it was'nt for the fact that it's such a repetitive song. The end of the song also features a laughable chant, in which shows the true emo style writing. Most of the songs deal with this man going crazy and doing things he can't control, but it seems like the band really wanted to mess things up with this ending. It's not a terrible song, but it could have been done so much better.
"I handed you a knife and my heart, and now the dream is over"
The Emptiness may tell an interesting story, but the album feels a little off balance. I don't hate this album, nor do I think I ever will, but it has a fair amound of problems backed up when it comes to the overall sound and pacing of the album. It has songs which you will hate, and some you might love, so it's either a hit or a miss depending on what you like. It is up their with On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax when it comes to their best record, but it really just comes out to be an average concept album from an average band.