I Am Empire

Anchors

Written by: TL on 06/05/2013 18:58:20

With one high.powered release to their name before they were even signed and one more launching them high up on the Christian Rock charts after they joined Tooth And Nail Records, California quartet I Am Empire are a band that put themselves decisively on my radar when they emerged a few years ago, yet despite taking a liking to a number of their songs, their excessive energy eventually did strike me as a bit too tryhard - like they were one of Papa Roach type bands, of the sorts that sound like they'll be playing roughly the same music for kids of roughly the same (low) age a lot longer than they should (why hello The Used, almost wasn't thinking of you there).

On the band's third album "Anchors", the band's approach seemingly remains unchanged at first. Praying at the alter of modern rock power, I Am Empire waste no time on fancy artistery, rather they drop ballsy riffage, booming production and hyper-dramatic vocals on the listener right off the bat. This time around, the wailing badassery of the guitars strike me as slightly similar to the sound of Muse at their meanest and hardest, which is partly a reason for my thinking I Am Empire seems slightly more mature here on "Anchors". The other reason is that singer Austin Lynos comes off a little less unhinged on here - don't get me wrong, his charismatic clean singing is still extremely high strung and dramatic, but somehow it feels less forced and more in its right on here, and that alone really makes "Anchors" a welcome step forward from the band.

I've you've been listening to the band previously, it should be clear to you that their approach to songwriting has consistently been conservative - If it works, there's no need to fix it. The same goes for the tunes on "Anchors", all of which fit their punchy riffs and catchy vocal melodies smoothly into highly accessibly, ready-for-rock-radio formulas - So you can give your math-rock-puzzle-solving ears a break and focus on banging your head and singing along.

The only real question is then; "How long does that stay interesting". The answer is slightly ambiguous, because upon repeat listens, "Anchors" will easily provide the listener with plentiful recognisable moments, yet as easy as these are to get into, it's equally easy to quickly pick up that some of the tracks are way more impactful than others. Opener "Gravity Bomb" and track five "Sing" specifically, have the sort of instantly palpable 'hit-power', that records like this one should hope to provide on each single cut - the sort you can hear from the first riff on the first listen.

As you may have guessed from that phrasing however, "Anchors" does not in fact deliver such super-powered moments as often as it no doubt hopes, despite its slight improvement over its predecessor "Kings" and despite the fact that it does actually maintain a relatively solid overall quality. So come to think of it, the word "solid" fits this release quite well, which makes it one I'd not hesitate to recommend, though I'm sure I Am Empire would be a little disappointed to not be rewarded with slightly more impressive superlatives like that. It's just hard to say what they could do to earn them, aside from maybe adding a bit more variety or a bit more ambition to the straight-forward style of songwriting they've engaged in this far.

7

Download: Sing, Gravity Bomb, The Mastermind Is Me
For The Fans Of: Young Guns, There For Tomorrow, Blitz Kids
Listen: facebook.com/iamempire

Release Date 26.03.2013
Tooth And Nail

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