Review Summary: A re-hash of old Killswitch Engage ideas or is it something entirely different in the making? For the most part nothing will be the same.
Jesse Leach returns to the metal community screaming, singing, yelling, and speaking through The Empire Shall Fall’s debut album Awaken. The Empire Shall Fall’s Awaken is a mixed bag of technicality, brutality, hardcore, metalcore, conventional rock and classic metal. On a first listen it will be noticed that there is not too much different in Leach’s vocal style compared to his efforts in Killswitch Engage. For the most part Leach portrays the same level of emotion he shows in his music everywhere. It can be easy to see Awaken as a simple redevelopment of the early Killswitch Engage efforts as there are some elements shown at times throughout Awaken. Overall The Empire Shall Fall does actually stand on its own.
On a positive note Leach’s vocal efforts do not remained in a screamed delivery form. Some contrast is shown as the vocal lines are also in the form of spoken word, yelled/forced, sung and growled. This attracts the listeners’ attention and maintains it to a greater level over the length of the album.Instrumentally the other instruments are played with great level of technique and the ability to add these techniques into their songs without losing the level of quality. Of particular note is the use of polyrhythms during parts of (and most of) tracks. The guitar work of Awaken is of a high standard and the use of melody when used, is used in a particular fashion as to not become tiring for the listener. Of particular note is the rhythm work of the guitarists combined with the work of the bass guitar and drums. The riffs are tasteful to their specific tracks sometimes choppy and tight while others are loose and bouncy and when these are used with the polyrhythms listeners are carried along through the tracks on a roller coaster of ups and downs, however whilst stating this there will be a point where the technical riffing becomes a bit much for the listener.
Musically a highlight of the album is the drum work of one Jeff Pitts and it’s easy to say this man really knows his instrument. The drum work of the album is by comparison the most technical element of the album. The back bone use of polyrhythms, used with the control of tempo and the timing changes will make the listener come back for a second listen.A negative of the album is that about halfway through the guitar riffs and ideas begin to blend and blur and drags on for the listener. The rhythm section then becomes over shadowed by Leach’s vocal efforts and when they’re used the guitar melody lines achieve a greater form of presence. This effect is slightly broken by the track “These Colours Bleed” where the riffs are tighter and straighter forward to a listener of more mainstream metal. This track is bound to get a few feet tapping.
Overall Awaken gives an interesting listen; the album truly does stand on its own. For a debut album, this shows a great deal of experience behind it, the technical ability of this shows potential for the next work (if any). While showing some influences from previous works, Leach’s vocal efforts match the overall mood of the album and it’s rather obvious that Awaken is not a Killswitch Engage # 2.
Highlights Include: Lords Of War, Choir Of Angels, The Kingdom.