Review Summary: Alesana hit back with a stellar performance.
"I’m about to tell you a story
A story that will torture your thoughts by day
And poison your dreams by night
And though I will do my best
There are no words that can be written
Nor brush strokes laid on canvas
That can describe the stark and utter horror
Of the night that Annabel died
The Emptiness will haunt you"
Shawn Milke: Clean vocalist, Rhythm guitarist, main storyboard writer
Dennis Lee: Unclean vocalist, main storyboard writer
Patrick Thompson: Lead guitar, backing vocals
Jake Campbell: Lead guitar
Shane Crump: Bass guitar, backing vocals
Jeremy Brian: Drums
Adam Fisher: Spoken word vocals
Melissa Milke: Female Vocals
And so starts 'The Emptiness', the third official release (excluding their EP 'Try This With Your Eyes Closed') from 'pop-metal' band Alesana. It is based around a story written by Shawn Milke (clean vocalist, rhythm guitar) and Dennis Lee (unclean vocalist) titled 'Annabel Lee', which is also loosely based around the poem of the same name by acclaimed-poet Edgar Allan Poe. Alesana, after releasing 'On Frail Wings Of Vanity And Wax' (alright) and 'Where Myth Fades To Legend' (kind of awful), they've upgraded their recording equipment, added more polish, and made more structured songs, and have created what is a well-made and great-sounding album that should be remembered for some time.
1. 'Curse Of The Virgin Canvas'
The album is introduced with one of the more hard-hitting songs. The song starts with some spoken vocals, which then explodes with guitars shredding. After a few seconds, Shawn sings for a bit, and Dennis scream for a bit. The chorus is catchy, the guitars and drums are well done, and the song opens up the album well.
2. 'The Artist'
The songs begins after an interlude, and starts off with a nice drums beat with some background guitar, and picks up some heavy screaming from Dennis, with melodic guitars backing it up. Shawn shows off some vocal talent later in the song and in the chorus. Nice way to get the listener pumped.
3. 'A Lunatic's Lament'
A nice song to listen to. Shawn shows off some relatively good song-writing and vocal range, with Dennis being of less importance within the song. Guitar and drums still great to listen to. Ends with an interlude.
4. 'The Murderer'
One of the best songs off the album. Starts with Dennis's heavy screams, with some suiting guitars and drums. Shawn is less prominent, and is left with just the chorus. Very nice solo with a great sounding drums ‘solo’ and good transition into the next song.
5. 'Hymn For The Shameless'
Starts off with an eerie start with Shawn, and develops into Dennis screaming for effect. A nice moody song, with fitting guitar. Drums seem a little out of place at times, but still sound great. Song ends with a nice mood to it and leads well into the next song.
6. 'The Thespian'
Single off the album and still a very powerful song. Contributes greatly to the story concept. Shows off the electricity between Shawn and Dennis and incorporates some great story into the song. Ends with a nice head-bang moment.
7. ‘Heavy Hangs The Albatross’
Great song to listen to. Starts with Shawn showing his potential as a vocalist and leads into Dennis. Has great melodic guitars to back up everything, with some fun drums in the background. Flows well after ‘The Thespian’.
8. ‘The Lover’
One of the weaker songs off the album. Drums aren’t as great as they are with the rest of the album. Weak lyrics with not enough range on Shawn’s vocals. Guitars are okay and Shawn screams are still fine.
9. ‘In Her Tomb By The Sounding Sea’
A more melodic song with a nice mood and some decent guitars and drums, but the lyrics are a tad boring but Shawn performs well, as does Dennis.
10. ‘To Be Scared By An Owl’
The second single off the album, and is still a great song. Drums aren’t as great, but the guitars sound groovy in the background and a nice ‘interlude’ towards the end of the song adds even more the story concept and prepares the listener for the final track.
The last song off the album, and debatably the best. Seven minutes of perfect guitars, drums, screams, cleans and everything else in between. Wraps up the album perfectly by ending the story with a bang.
Of course, the album does have the occasional problem. The bass line that would make the album even better is lost beneath the lead and rhythm guitars. The vocals aren’t always stellar, and the song writing can be weak at times. The songs also (for the most part) follow the ‘clean vocals in chorus, unclean vocals in verses’. Although it’s perfectly fine, and Shawn does sometimes do cleans for some versus, it can get a tad repetitive.
That aside though, this album is stellar. For everything clichéd about the album, it makes up for in its unique story-based idea, and the guitars memorable performance. Although the album isn’t perfect, it’s still enjoyable all the way through, and garners more than a few listens to realise its brilliance.