Now these guys are great, one of my favorite bands. Their name is I Am Empire, and they are an alternative rock band from San Jose California currently signed with Tooth & Nail Records. This is an amazing debut album from the group which I have never regretted purchasing.
The record explodes on start-up with crunchy guitar riffs and melodies on the song Brain Damage. The vocals on this track and the guitar solo are especially mind-blowing (pun intended). Brain Damage and the next song, Heart Attack, clearly lay down the foundation of the album’s theme of abandonment. At age ten frontman Austin Lyon’s father deserted the family, and years later after his stepfather had become close to them, he abandoned them as well. Heart Attack has a riveting chorus, and as with Brain Damage has some breathtaking guitar work. The third track on the album is Saints & Sinners which like the previous two tracks, is a high energy song filed with more great guitar-work and vocals. The song, especially the chorus” “How can you be a saint when your a sinner like me? / How can you be anything at all? / How can you be a god when your a coward to me? / How can you be anything at all?” is bound to get caught in your brain and you’ll enjoy every minute of it. That’s what happened to me anyways. All that bugs me here is the occasional whiny scream such as when Austin sings “You sound just like a prophet man.” This is a distraction and can tend to disrupt the flow of the song at times.
At this point in the album, things take a bit of a change. In Hammer & Anvils and Love & Despair the songs get a bit slower, and focus a bit more on the drums than on the guitar. (As well as a synth on the latter) Hammers & Anvils continues with the abandonment Austin faced, and his thanks to God for pulling him through in the lines “Oh it’s hope that has embraced me / And my God who won’t forsake me / Sweet Jesus you’re amazing / You save me every single time I fall down.” The opening of Love & Despair reminds me of the Philmont song Closer which is a bit odd for me. Other than that though it is a great song though and one of their best.
Now back to rock they go. To The Moon has that great rock sound that they do so well on tracks like Brain Damage and Saints & Sinners. The guitar solo on this one is the best yet and is absolutely jaw-dropping. Surprisingly, although I believe Austin does his best work on the rock tracks, I think that the lines in this song with the least amount of rock-feel to them are the best performed on this song. “Dry your eyes / Don’t fall asleep with pride / A doctor with a bad intention can’t ever fix this mess / Not with the world to impress.” The Elevator follows up and is an awesome song. Although the lyrics are quite short, and the song is the shortest on the album clocking in at just over two and a half minutes, the song is one of the most outstanding. The next song is one that was actually co-written by Anberlin’s Joseph Milligan. The song is called Dig You Out and is my personal favorite off the album. On this track I believe that Austin delivers his best vocals, and the music complements it amazingly.
Now we come to my least favorite part of the album. The song Take Me Away. Is it because Austin does a bad job? Or is the music bad, or what? None of those, I think these are some superb songs. But the transition from the harder songs preceding it is quite disruptive and interrupts the flow of the music a good deal. Besides that though, like I said, it’s a very good song. I think it would have fit well on the soundtrack for the movie Where the Wild Things Are. Right after this we make the switch back to the heavier and more aggressive side of their music with the song You’re A Fake! This song is amazing, and the guitar solo for it sits right up there with the ones on To The Moon and The Elevator. So from here we move on to Foxhole which like The Elevator, has some short lyrics but the song is great nonetheless. Personally I prefer the acoustic version of this song (check the end of this review for a download link) better, but the original is still good too. Lastly, we close with the acoustic driven song It’s Not Fair. Of all the ballads and slower songs on the album, this one is the best. It’s a sad and touching song, and you can truly see how much Austin truly pours his heart into his music at this point.
Overall I believe that this was a very solid debut by the band, and I’m going to give it four and a half stars out of five. I am looking forward to seeing big things from these guys which are sure to come. As they say in The Elevator: “This is our time / Without a doubt I know this is our time.” In the future I’m hoping to hear more great songs, especially those like the ones I have listed below.
Top Songs In My Opinion:
1) Dig You Out
2) To The Moon
3) Saints & Sinners
And as promised, here’s your download link for the acoustic version of Foxhole. Just go ahead and like the page then click download: http://www.facebook.com/iamempire?sk=app_107611949261673