I Am Empire


Written by: TL on 02/02/2011 22:55:19

I became aware of I Am Empire last year, around the time promotion started for this year's release of the sophomore album "King", and having had prior success with trusting Tooth & Nail, I decided to review the band's two first albums. The San Jose-based quintet originally built their reputation on energetic live-shows and a fairly good self-released debut, so I figured they could be a good band to keep an eye on.

Now compared to the first album, IAE have naturally decided to use their newfound label support to get themselves a nicer production, but apart from that, they've also made their sound somewhat more mainstream friendly. Effectively, they now sound most like recent Papa Roach material, Escape The Fate, Lostprophets or Young Guns. Their prime characteristic however, is still the vocal work of Aaron Lyons, who at times sound really impressive, pulling off the bittersweet and the attitude-ful seemingly with energy to spare.

That's all well and good, but problems arise in cases when IAE try to step up into the leagues of the more epic mainstream-rockers, attempting to pull of similar amounts of pathos as My Chemical Romance or indeed Young Guns throw around. This results in awkward ballads and 'anthems' like "Hammers & Anvils" and "Love & Despair", both of which are likely to have most respectable music fans look around for their barf bags.

Fortunately for IAE, they also get it right at times, and when they do so - in songs like "Brain Damage", "To The Moon", "The Elevator" and "Foxhole" - then they still seem to have potential. Even in those cases however, it's hard to deny that the material here is somewhat formulaic, and that the band would have done well to not strike the word 'subtlety' as utterly from their vocabulary as they must have, before going in to record the album. With those deficiencies, this remains well-performed and well-produced pop-rock, but it doesn't have the class or the depth to step up and play with the big boys.


Download: Brain Damage, To The Moon, Foxhole
For The Fans Of: Papa Roach, Lostprophets, Young Guns,
Listen: myspace.com/iamempire

Release Date 25.01.2011
Tooth & Nail

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