Sunday, January 27, 2008

If I Had My Own World ... I'd Build You An Empire ...

As on their debut album, Angels and Airwaves (AVA) continue the epic emo-infused U2 style rock anthems on their sophomore release "I-Empire". Being a fan, although not a rabid one, I was unawares of this new album, until I saw it in the local record store. I was immediately intrigued, but sampled it first to avoid being burned by the crappy follow-up syndrome that can plague mainstream bands. I was not disappointed. In fact this album is a step forward and perhaps more grand.

I only needed to hear the opening anthem "Call To Arms" to be sold on this album. It kicks off the album with their signature keys and thunderous drums intertwined with some electronics only to blow me away with an upliftingly moving anthem. The melody is uber catchy and one of their most emotionally impacting songs. While I don't want to suggest the album is all downhill from here, I will say this is my favourite song on this album and altogether by this band.

"Sirens" is another uplifting energetic song with a bright melody. "Secret Crowds" which falls just shy of my favourite song is a Box Car Racer influenced song whose biting guitar riff exposes the wounded hopefulness in this majestically rousing Anthem. And I just love the bells used in the chorus.

"Rite Of Spring" is another emotional punching bag and probably the most personally raw song Tom Delonge has ever wrote. It has a killer classic rock riff while retaining the melodic and passionate conviction AVA is famous for. "Everything's Magic" is an upbeat, fun and energetic song layered with emotional melodies.

The U2 influence is still present, but is more diluted by AVA's ever-growing unique sound. The album's closer "Heaven" uses the faster, upbeat influence mixed with Blink-like guitar riffs to create a whole new sound although never sounding out of place. "Love Like Rockets" is one of the only songs to feature the spacey-sound effects and electronic sounds that spotted their debut, but used minimally here. It's a thunderously upbeat song with U2 nods.

The electronics are used mainly on the short instrumentals that lead into a couple songs. "Star Of Bethlehem" is a Floyd-ian influenced spacey piece that seamlessly transitions into "True Love". "Jumping Rooftops" electronic technoy beat and familiar keyboard melody leads us into "Rite Of Spring".

"Breathe" is a slower moving piece with what I feel are Peter Gabriel like influences. An airy anthem full of passion. "True Love" builds slowly into a poppy upbeat and hopeful tune. A fun song. "Lifeline" is a stirring uplifting anthem with versatile vocal work by Tom, some of his best I might add.

Angels and Airwaves have delivered again with "I-Empire"s anthemic rock masterpiece that has overtaken a consistent listening position in my regular CD rotation. I'm blown away by the emotionally powerful music that Angels and Airwaves consistently produces. It's everything I've loved about Blink 182 and Box Car Racer and enhanced with influences of some of rocks greatest innovators.

You can't miss their influences, but the band blends them together into one of the more original sounding music I've heard. I just hope they can keep up this kind of caliber. With Tom's track record, I'm not that worried just as long as the "we're making rock n roll history" egotism doesn't sour it.

Up next I'll be heading back to The Metal with a review of funeral doom bands starting with Ahab followed by Catacombs.


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