Lightning strikes the same place twice with Jesse Leach

Back when Killswitch Engage’s “Alive or Just Breathing” came out, it was one of those rare musical moments when a new album made everything else sound obsolete. And obviously frontman Jesse Leach who left after that album had a lot to do with that magic, as the debut album by his new project The Empire Shall Fall carries pretty much the same charge.

Jesse’s vocals are just one of the things that connect “Awaken” with the album from 2002. Here, just as back then, we have a collection of songs that each have some kind of a main idea that they revolve around and sets it apart from the rest. There are no compositional formulas in The Empire Shall Fall’s debut – all the music flows spontaneously and naturally.

The opening title track may be somewhat deceiving as it relies mostly on clean melodic vocals that step by step build up the tension that blows up in a Meshuggah-style riff towards the song’s end. The influences from the Swedish math-metal beats are easy to hear throughout the rest of the disc. A little later comes “Voices Forming Weapons” that is something like the newschool equivalent of Earth Crisis and “Firestorm” with all the mid tempo marching riffs and an angry lyrics (that is not that radical, though), and a simply brilliant melodic chorus to top it all.

The Empire Shall Fall don’t mind fucking a bit with some of metal music’s established clichés. “Choir of Angels” for example starts right off with no intro and at maximum speed and cuts off your head for a minute and a half. But instead of stopping just there (as you’d expect after hearing many fastass metal tracks) it goes on for 6 minutes during which it goes through all types of musical moments. And the band deserves a thumbs up just for turning the cliché upside down here!

And this is only a small part of the music that “Awaken” offers. As I already said, the songs are different from one another and there is no point in describing them all – the album is full of reasons to be heard anyway. Now, is this going to turn around the whole music industry like Killswitch Engage’s breakthrough did? Most likely not. But as far as the impact on the listener is concerned, we have a case of lightning striking the same place twice here.

Verdict: 5.75 / 6

More info:
Official band MySpace
Entire album live stream

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