8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Emo Powerpop Psychedilic Stadium Hair Metal...?,
This review is from: Kings (MP3 Music)
I Am Empire is part of an unusual breed of rock bands. It's even more unusual to see what record label picked them up - Tooth & Nail, a label that seems to be determined to replace their alternative rock outfit Anberlin with wave after wave of cheap copies, has finally stepped out of their comfort zone here. There is one particularly interesting thing about I Am Empire: there is absolutely nothing original about this band. However, there is something special about their sound, because, as a band completely content to operate within the confines of rock and roll, they manage to strike the listener as refreshingly nostalgic.
Things get kicked off with explosive, stadium-rock sized guitar riffs on "Brain Damage." The vocals come in shrill, squeaky, and flamboyant after a couple of measures; there's no subtlety here at all. This is a rock and roll album, and I Am Empire is here to pound the listener with truckloads of the stuff. It's not about sex and drugs, though - the emo-tinged lyrical content pours out a hearty helping of angst. Ironically, it's not Anberlin or The Classic Crime stuff either; rather, it's mostly about father-son abandonment and the struggle to forgive. It sounds depressing, but it's almost hard to care about the heady topics presented here because of the incredibly upbeat sounds that the album dishes out. "Hammers & Anvils" and "Dig You Out" both play with a more modern powerpop sound, while "The Elevator" and "Foxhole" serve up the stadium style riffs. "Love and Despair" has a pleasant, less energetic psychedelic vibe to it. Here's the strangest part - All the songs sound like they could have come right off of an 80s rock record, with Bon Jovi and Guns N' Roses sounding like important influences. It could even be argued that I Am Empire is a - dare I say it? - twenty-first century hair metal band, with "Saints & Sinners," "You're a Fake," and "To The Moon" offering up cheesy heavy-pop-rock riffs, high-pitched scream-singing, impressive-but-ridiculous guitar solos, and, yes, "Woah-oh-oh's." The band closes this mish-mash of rock with a down-home blues-rock number, of all things.
That sounds like criticism, and perhaps it is, but I don't intend it to be. I Am Empire does not present anything here that suggests serious staying power, but there is still something to be said about crafting what might be the most fun album of spring 2011. The band could stand to listen to criticisms and try to find a sound that brings something new to the table, but for the rest of us, I can only recommend "Kings" as a completely worthy purchase. In a 2011 full of too-serious rockers with various axes to grind, a group that remembers to jam it up a little is wholly welcomed. A buy, no less.
Ten-Point Scale: 7.5 out of 10
Genre: Powerpop / Stadium Rock / Hair Metal
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Initial post: Dec 28, 2011 1:29:53 PM PST
Thank you for this well-written, informative, constructive review.
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