Review: I Am Empire – Kings


Tooth & Nail Records

Released January 25 2011

Reviewed By Tyler Hess

There are times when I can listen to an album and figure out how it will play out by the time the chorus hits on the first song and things make sense.  Then there’s this.  I could listen to I Am Empire’s label debut, Kings, every day for a year and I’d still be left grasping at straws to put them in a box, which is where we tend to like to put bands so that we can label and understand them and explain them to sound smart.  All I can figure is that if you take a hard hitting rock band like Since October or even Skillet and you mix it with the raw emotion of a band like Kids In The Way, somewhere along the way you’ll find yourself in the heavy alternative rock range that I Am Empire has dug themselves into somehow.

Kings starts off with a song that I had been hearing on the radio for weeks with the hit song “Brain Damage”, which is short and to the point, but catchy as can be.  “Heart Attack follows the aggressive opening to the album with squealing guitar riffs filling it to the brim.  My favorite song on the album has to be the single that was released not too long ago with “Saints & Sinners” that cleverly approaches the topic of hypocrisy in a track that can’t get out of my head.  “Hammers & Anvils” slows things down just a bit while mixing an attitude of worship and a hope for building something great for God.  “Love & Despair” follows up with a true ballad to show that they aren’t a one trick pony and doesn’t sound that far off from a House of Heroes song, despite generally having a much heavier sound overall.  “To The Moon” picks the pace back up with a call to “throw your life away”, followed by the arena rock track “The Elevator” declaring that “this is our time”.  I don’t want to call “Dig You Out” a filler track, as it has a good flow to it that has my head nodding along, but there is absolutely nothing memorable about it even when I’m paying close attention to every detail and trying to come up with something, it just doesn’t stick out at all, it’s just there.  “Take Me Away” busts out another ballad that calls out for an escape, contrasted by the fearless “You’re A Fake”.  Kings closes with a couple of reflective tracks in “Foxhole” and “It’s Not Fair”.

Kings truly starts out great with songs that boom and stick and finish with proper closing songs that bring you back down, but somewhere in the middle it loses a little bit of the flavor and edge and just feels like it has maybe  a couple too many tracks to keep full interest for the whole album.  Still, there’s enough promise in there that they can choose to refine their sound and make sure they have a full album of great hits next time around or they could get lazy and have one.  Different bands go different ways, I’m hoping for greater things for this band though and wouldn’t shy away from saying I enjoy a lot of what they presented on Kings.

Score: 3.5/5

Tracklisting:

1. Brain Damage

2. Heart Attack

3. Saints & Sinners

4. Hammers & Anvils

5. Love & Despair

6. To The Moon

7. The Elevator

8. Dig You Out

9. Take Me Away

10. You’re A Fake

11. Foxhole

12. It’s Not Fair

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