Smile Empty Soul
Anxiety


4.5
superb

Review

by riffariffic7 USER (19 Reviews)
January 4th, 2015 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A gripping, magnetic album from start-to-finish.

Smile Empty Soul's Anxiety is a haunting portrait, as it is seen almost immediately delving into themes such as solitude and greed. The album holds a strong, rebellious nature throughout, making criticisms on things such as television and war, all while crafting a very bleak atmosphere that encapsulates the entire album. While it is a fair bit depressing throughout most of the runtime, Anxiety is also shockingly enjoyable, even at some of its most darkest moments, thanks to wonderful song-writing, excellent musicianship and a gifted vocal performance from Sean Danielsen. As with their first album, this sophomore production revels in setting fire to patriotism and religion. However, unlike their previous effort, this album is far more laid-back, subdued and constantly effective at conveying its messages with precision and clarity. While the d├ębut album often came across as a more profane, Hybrid Theory-type of record, Anxiety thankfully deviates away from that notion, starting strong with its powerful opening track.

"Bright Side" immediately kicks things off in a skilled fashion, laying out a very daring message in the opening seconds: "Break everything you love, after all there's no hope for God above". The chorus itself is stunning too, featuring a first-rate vocal performance from Danielson, along with some crackling guitar and bass-work, making it unusually hopeful for being such a dark tune. Each track has a certain charm, as they all feel genuine and honest, the songs have varying qualities that make them very easy to resonate with as well. "To the Ground" follows "Bright Side" nicely, it's very apocalyptic in tone, describing a world that's crumbling to the ground, leading towards a blazing and fantastic final chorus. Later in the album, "Proud to Be" emerges in all of its disturbing and unsettling glory, it's easily the toughest track to get through on the record, but pays off well with a good chorus and a hilarious intro named "Cody"; which is a phone message from the singer of Troll Forcefield left on Sean's answering machine.

Feeling almost improvisational comes along "Fight of a Suburban Couple". Clocking in at only two minutes and fifteen seconds, it mocks everything having to do with television, from the news, all the way to mindless game and reality-shows. While it almost reaches a humorous level, it's far from it, as the lyrics depict a common problem in the world: the problem of people who simply don't care as long as they have their favourite channels, and the corporate media stations which only promote fear and hatred to keep their ratings up. Similarly, "God's Army" criticises the American army for shipping soldiers to battlefields for vague reasons: "I really don't know why we're fighting, I know there's got to be a reason, our government would never send us without a cause... let's hope I'm fighting for God's army". These kind of heavily political and anti-TV songs definitely aren't the best this album has to offer, they're very bitter and mean-spirited, which works against the album's more subdued nature, even though it worked favourably for the far heavier self-titled album (especially with the song "This Is War").

Despite some hiccups, the album proceeds at a rapid-fire pace with powerhouse inclusions such as "Not Alright", "Never Again", "Saturday" and "Holes". "Not Alright" resonates immediately with a chorus that spits "I hope you're not alright" to whoever may be the intended target. Blasting off right away is "Never Again" which features some of the best guitar and bass-work this album has to offer, as there are plenty of crisp riffs layered throughout. "Saturday" is similarly rollicking, charting some of the most engaging lyrics this record has to offer: "What if I sail and I don't wanna come out so #@%$ing busy getting &@#$ed up at my house, what would you think of me then? Since you're doing the same, I know you'd understand". Finally, "Holes" may be the most notorious track on the record, and for good reason, it was supposed to be the album's leading single, but religious groups took offence to the lyrics on-display and succeeded in holding back the album's initial release in 2005; thankfully the band came through and released it through their record company, MRAfia Records, in 2008.

There's nothing subtle about this album, and rightfully so, as it's at its best when it's in-your-face with ferocious instrumentals and fiery vocals, while also leaving some breathing room with relaxing and thoughtful acoustic ballads such as "California's Lonely" and the album closer "End of the World". Anxiety is chock-full of sonically-pleasing alternative, rock, metal and grunge classics from start-to-finish. Some may find the harsh themes sprinkled throughout to be a bit dodgy, but there's no denying the talent that this band have assembled with this under-the-radar masterpiece. It takes a lot of bravery to make an album of this kind, as it will surely make a lot of groups and organizations very upset over its content, but who cares? It's pleasing to see the corporate big-wigs put in their place with this kind of blood-curdling record, one that's swift in sharing tales of fear and uncertainty as every person has gone through in their lives. Overall, if you're a fan of grungy-rock music, you owe it to yourself to give this album a shot, there are a ton of terrific songs to choose from.



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user ratings (53)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
riffariffic7
January 5th 2015


488 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

01. Bright Side - 5/5

02. To The Ground - 5/5

03. California's Lonely - 4/5

04. Self Inflicted - 4.5/5

05. Holes - 5/5

06. Don't Need You - 3.5/5

07. Fight Of A Suburban Couple - 3/5

08. Refill Me - 4/5

09. God's Army - 3/5

10. Not Alright - 5/5

11. Saturday - 5/5

12. Cody

13. Proud To Be - 4.5/5

14. Never Again - 5/5

15. End Of The World 4.5/5



I really enjoyed this album, glad I was the first one to review it on this site, definitely give it a

listen if you're a fan of early Linkin Park, Nirvana and Chevelle.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2015


31660 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

YESSSS!!!

Green Baron
January 5th 2015


24805 Comments


"Bottom of a Bottle" is a decent song, haven't heard much else from them.

StKiyo
January 5th 2015


384 Comments


Just heard one song from this, and it's interesting. Maybe i'll jam this later.

riffariffic7
January 5th 2015


488 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Green Baron - "Bottom of a Bottle" is a really good track, it's one of the few that I enjoyed from their first album. This album is instrumentally much better than anything on the first album, you'll probably recognize that right away once you give "Bright Side" a spin, the songs on this album aren't as loud as the songs on the self-titled album, which makes this a far better album by comparison. "Bright Side" and "To the Ground" are the best songs to start with since they open up the album quite nicely (I especially loved the final chorus during "To the Ground", really great stuff).



@StKiyo - I'd definitely recommend giving the album a spin sometime, it's got some issues which kept me from giving it a perfect score, such as being too political or mean-spirited in certain places, but the songs that are about genuine personal matters work really well. This was a tough album to review, I'm not surprised that this is the first review it's received for this site, it's tough to talk in-depth about it, but it's easy to sit down and enjoy because of its depth and overall great musicianship on-display from all of the band members. The album is a grower and is definitely one of the best albums of the grunge genre.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2015


15856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great album this.



Nice review man. Pos.

riffariffic7
January 5th 2015


488 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, Dr. Gonzo.

DeadGuy
January 6th 2015


1018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Probably their best album



I remember them saying they had signed like a 6 or 7 album deal originally, but disagreements with this label and the christian coalition boycotting the original single: "Holes," got this shelved and dropped.



They woulda been as big as three days grace, puddle of mudd, etc... more than likely.

riffariffic7
January 7th 2015


488 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@DeadGuy - That's for sure. They would have probably surpassed those bands. This album alone is better than any album those bands have ever produced, but people tend to prefer simple and catchy over complex as well as being catchy as hell, which is a real shame, because underrated bands like Smile Empty Soul get sidelined everyday to bands like Seether and Nickelback who make the same generic trite again-and-again until they fade into obscurity. Originality doesn't sell records, being plain and phony (or "Fancy", like Iggy Azalea and other so called "artists" that can't sing worth a damn without a lab-full of tweakers) is the only way to sell to the ignorant masses. Blatantly ripping off other artists is essential too, people will eat that right up.

riffariffic7
January 24th 2015


488 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah. These guys went through a lot just to release an album. I find it offensive how they held this album back yet let the first one out with seemingly no fuss at all. That first record had PLENTY more anti-religion and anti-war messages throughout than this album did, this record held those themes back quite a bit but, of course, when religious groups somehow got their hands on hearing "Holes" they had themselves a fit over it.

DeadGuy
January 30th 2015


1018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The first album went gold too. I don't think 'holes" would have done as well as "bottom of a bottle" if it were their debut, but while they had decent fame and a large fanbase it might have taken off, changing their career forever. Then again the lead singer was a heavy alcoholic too, and more fame might have worsened that instead of him becoming sober, eventually leading to a downfall. Who knows...

DeadGuy
January 30th 2015


1018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

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