RATING: (10 out of 10) RELEASE DATE: January 25th, 2011 LABEL: Rooth and Nail Records REVIEWED ON: August 21st, 2011 REVIEWED BY: Bryce CooleyREVIEW
I tried to search for words to describe I Am Empire's sound and came up empty. Enter their official biography. I Am Empire is described as "Blazing Alternative Rock." I couldn't agree more. Their music is intense but not heavy, catchy but not pop.
The San Jose quintet (Austin Lyons - vocals, Andrew Stanton - lead guitar, Joshua Case - bass, Dan Otis - guitar, Eric Martin - drums) had little trouble making a name in their local scene, sharing the stage with bands like Flyleaf, Sublime, Deftones, Silversun Pickups, Thursday, and The Wedding and getting press from companies such as AP, AOL and Spinner.com. In August of 2010 they garnished the attention of Tooth and Nail and the rest, shall we say, is history.
Lyons, IAE's vocalist, says, "The whole record is about abandonment, particularly the fact that my father is the one who abandoned me." The raw emotion is heard clearly throughout Kings. The title stems from a desire to pick up the crown from the head of the household who left and be better when you grow up. It is an album filled with angst and a desire to break cycles of abandonment. This honest melancholy truth can be seen in the final track "It's not fair," a song reminiscent of "The Widow" by As Cities Burn. Lyon's goal is "to be as honest as [he] can be." Mission Accomplished. The words in these songs can be an anthem for an abandoned generation. I personally love Christians who can be honest about the pain of life,. It's not good to gloss over it; we need to face it and let God do what He will with our shattered lives.
Through it all I Am Empire teaches us a lesson that many have lost after life beats it out of us. "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." This is a painful truth. It reminds me of a speech given at my recent wedding ceremony. "Bryce, you will fail Bethany; Bethany, you will fail Bryce, But Jesus Christ will never fail you." People's choices, whether selfish or accidental, will hurt us--we can count on that. But that is not all we can count on. We can count on God's grace to shine into our situations, not taking all pain away but giving us hope to endure.
If I had the rock n' roll chops and vocal charisma of I Am Empire, I would be proud to release Kings. Honestly, I heard the whole album in it's entirety yesterday and couldn't wait to share my thoughts. I couldn't find anything I didn't love about it. Lyrically, vocally, dynamically--this CD is awesome. I would not be surprised if I Am Empire became a household name among rock enthusiasts in the next few years. My suggestion: get into them now so that when they are on the cover of Rolling Stones magazine, you can say,"You just heard about them? I've love those guys since the beginning." After all, who doesn't love that guy?