Album Review :
I Am Empire - s/t

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Band: I Am Empire
Title: s/t
Label: N/A
Release Date: April 13, 2009
Review By: Scott L


01. Encompass Me
02. You’re A Fake!
03. The Waiting Room
04. Driver
05. Carry On
06. Abstract Masterpiece
07. The Elevator
08. Lung Capacity
09. Found in the Ocean
10. The Other Side of the World

Listening to boatloads of powerpop, pop-punk, emo, and screamo lately, I’d forgotten how much I love straight forward rock n’ roll. Thankfully, I Am Empire’s self-titled 10-track CD brought me back to reality. And fast. Man, oh man… these guys know how to rock.

Sweet guitar work is the order of the day for this 5-piece outfit hailing from sunny San Jose, California. Actually, I guess I should say, ‘killer’ guitar work, because anytime a song includes a full-on pick slide… it automatically graduates from ‘sweet’ to ‘killer.’ And these guys are killer guitarists indeed, bringing an almost classic metal flare to their songs while maintaining a more modern vibe. The vocals are layered and hit you with great range and control and a smooth transition from clean to grit. Don’t take this wrong, but I was reminded of Michael Sweet in some places. Think what you will about his musical style, it’s vastly different from I Am Empire, but you’ve gotta admit he had an amazing voice. Such is the case here. Rounding out the mix, the bass and drums work in tandem not only to provide the backbone to the songs but to really help fill out the tracks and carry them along. The songs have weight and hold up well on multiple listen throughs. Production is top notch. Everything comes through crisp and clean. This is especially true of the band’s passion; which says as much about their writing abilities as it does about their musical talent. You feel these songs as much as you hear them.

I Am Empire’s overall sound would fit in well with the likes of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Thrice, and Novice. Catchy rock with a bit of a harder undercurrent that rises to the foreground periodically.

The songs are equal parts catchy and dreamy. And by dreamy, I don’t mean that they’ll put you to sleep… I mean they have the ability to pull you in and carry you along with them. Four of the tracks were originally released on I Am Empire’s 2008 release “Letters”, but have since been completely remastered. Lyrically, I Am Empire keeps things on a pretty even keel. Spiritual topics are dealt with but mostly in a somewhat oblique manner. Nothing overly obvious that couldn’t be taken in a variety of ways. The messages in the songs are generally meaningful and positive.

The standout track for me was “Lung Capacity” which weighs in somewhere along the lines of Secret & Whisper meets Dead Poetic. Not a bad combination if you’re looking for some high-end rock to get your blood pumping.

Overall: I Am Empire’s self-titled release is scheduled to hit the market on April 13, 2009. And hit it will… with force. This is a great CD and one that you definitely need to check out.