Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: The Empire Shall Fall - Volume One: Solar Plexus

Band: The Empire Shall Fall
Album: Volume One: Solar Plexus
Year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Metal/Core
Country: USA

As some may know I am a big fan of Alive or Just Breathing era Killswitch Engage. While the music is great my interest in KsE waned after Jesse Leach left the band. It waned even further as the band became what I can only describe as a satire of itself with its last few releases. But I continued to follow Mr. Leach into his new metal project The Empire Shall Fall. Their first album, Awaken, is easily one of my favorite metal/core albums. So I was pleased to find out the band was going to release 3 EPs to create a concept piece of sorts. Well the first of these EPs is here, Volume One: Solar Plexus easily rivals Awake.

Let me stop gushing over the vocalist to say how much I LOVE the guitar duo of Jake Davenport and Marcus de Lisle. You can tell they incorporate elements that range from bluesy to progressive metal to hardcore. It's almost like a less schizoid version of Between the Buried and Me in some ways, though I will admit a bit less technical. But still there are a lot of interesting song structures that aren't exactly the norm. I especially enjoy the solos, they aren't wanky or go into noodling territory but are very soulful. And the riffs are monstrous. The amount of melody in some of the riffs is incredible while still allowing for a heavy headbanging experience.

The drumming of Jeff Pitts fits the progressive and aggressive nature of the music. I don't know how they got that heavy thumping bassy sound for the bass drums in Awaken but its back and its one of my favorite features. Outside of that the other parts of the drumming are not your average boring metalcore drumming style and its a treat to listen to. To be honest I cant really hear the bass guitar through some of the EP. Dubrise specifically has a sort of reggae feeling which lends to the bass being more audible. It might be because I'm listening mostly from my computer speakers but the bass drum adds more bottom end it seems.

Jesse Leach continues with his good streak of good performances over the last few years. His harsh vox consistently stays at a higher pitch than what we had heard on AoJB. Its both very emotionally charged but not whiny and you can tell he is passionate about what he writes about. There is still a lot of clean singing as well. Usually too much clean singing can ruin an album for me but, and I hate to use the word again here, a very soulful voice. While Howard is (was) singing about how bad his relationship is Jesse is discussing the problems of society and how we could/should fix them. The message is very positive and something I enjoy.

There are 4 proper songs on Solar Plexus and each can stand on its own as a great song. But As the City Sleeps takes the cake for me. There is a great saxophone piece thrown into the bridge which is a standout on the album. I also enjoy the what is I guess you could call gang shouts during the chorus of the song. Every song here is good though, even the 3 tracks in between the full length ones that act as interludes are aurally pleasing. The Martyr's Song is short but I like the Post-Rock sound it conveys.

If you haven't listened to Awaken you HAVE to listen to Volume One. Especially those people inclined to listening to progressive metal, though I can see how hardcore fans would enjoy it just as much. While I liked Awaken this is a step more into the experimental side the band had explored a little on that album. Its safe to say TESF know exactly what they are doing and want to accomplish. For thought provoking, melodic ridden heavy music I can't think of anything better to listen to.

Score: 9/10
Standout Tracks: As the City Sleeps, The First Redemption, The Genesis of These Scars, Narrow, The Path I Walk Part II


muz said...

Ooh, 9/10 eh? You know, I've had this on my computer for longest time and still HAVE YET to actually sit and listen to it. For shaaaaammmeee, I know :[ Well your review re-piqued my interest!

Thomas said...

Yeah I think this one would be more for you than Awaken. Its not super duper out there like BtBaM but for metalcore its got a lot of charm and they've sort of developed a style of their own.