Review Summary: I guess this time you really can blame it on his ADD...
AWOLNATION (from here on in Awolnation, as the caps lock thing is utter bull) is a rather strange musical entity; neither a fully-fledged band nor a hermetic solo project, it is in many senses a one man project along with Aaron Bruno’s many, many friends. Formed from the ashes of the post-grunge Home Town Hero and the deliciously direct alt-pop of Under the Influence of Giants, Awolnation’s style is reminiscent of both aforementioned acts along with a thin slice of Enter Shikari-like post-hardcore and a dense slab of electronica. As eclectic and ambitious as its name suggests, Megalithic Symphony builds on the much-hyped promise of Awolnation’s previous EP, Back to Earth and debut single.
The lead single Sail doesn’t even need even an introduction. At first a slow burner before erupting into life largely down to the unofficial music video with those very pretty girls, Sail wallow’s in a post-dubstep simplicity. Orchestral sections seamlessly blend into a deep industrial synth warble before breaking into a simple, but oh-so effective vocal performance from Aaron Bruno. If simplicity does reign on Megalithic Symphony, it’s on Sail.
While Sail sets the precedent for Megalithic Symphony at an almost preposterous level, the first bona fide track, Soul Wars makes one forget about the absolute tripe of the opening and sophomore preludes; constructed on a bellicose percussion pattern it builds on an prominent synth line before melding along with Bruno’s post-grunge scream. It’s tight, aggressive and an absolute treat. ‘People’ changes the tempo but keeps the vibe with its downright upbeat pop ambiance, while Jump On My Shoulders revels in its genius melody. At the equidistant point it seems Bruno and company can do no wrong; Burn It Down’s adolescent aggression maybe too much for some to bear, but this is soon compensated for in Guilty Filthy Soul, where Bruno’s knack for melody shines through admirably.
If Megalithic Symphony has one problem, its ideas. Lots of ideas. It seems that Aaron Bruno had some ideas, indeed more than enough to create an entirely solid, if shorter LP, then along came his friends and thus came more ideas, then Aaron left it some time, thought of some more unhinged concepts before deciding to throw the kitchen sink at this album (which I think is used somewhere in the 15 minute epic of Knights of Shame). The problem is that though the majority of songs have their merits, things begin to fall apart near the end forcing Bruno to turn up the elaboration dial to spice things up. If the annoying grunting chants and squealing synths of Its Not Your Fault grate the nerves, the melodramatic All I Need sure will, in which a choir sings a introduction that sounds copyright similar to a Babybel Cheese advert jingle (not sure if they sell this in America, its horrible either way). All of this exorbitance is culminated in Knights of Shame, which is as enjoyable as it is irking, as it plods along its fifteen-minute path.
The decadent Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins stated that Megalithic Symphony was his favourite album of the past decade; he would really, of course he does ride a giant tiger onto stage. I guess you really could blame Megalithic Symphony on his ADD after all. Constant, almost schizophrenic changes of direction along with overt detail detract from the overall enjoyment of the album. It masks the genius melody and genuinely impressive sounds which form the bedrock of an album which should be a world beater, but I guess you don’t always get things right the first time around, if you could call it that.