Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Chris Howell | Acworth, GA | 01/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It took a few plays for this album to grow on me. At first, I thought the songs were too similar. After about the third play, I really began to love several of the songs, and a play or two later, the entire album. It is my favorite album of the last few years, and a strong improvement over their freshman effort. Not only is the music outstanding, but the story behind the songs seems thoughtful, deep, and compelling."
"Watch your words spread hope like fire..."
Prog Nerd | Southern California | 01/25/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Angels & Airwaves continues forward with their 80s-tinged blending of punk vocals, anthemic and chest-beating U2 choruses, and the guitar shadings and conceptual nature of classic Pink Floyd. All in all, some of my favorite musical touchstones that have been part of the soundtrack to my life.
"Call To Arms" opens in classic AvA style, widescreen and epic, beautiful chiming guitars and pulsing keyboards building up into a huge song with big choruses and gorgeous Hammond organ.
"Everything's Magic" has become sort've "our song" between my girlfriend and I. I heard it for the first time just days before we met, and it was played quite a bit in the car during our first few months. Everytime we hear it come on in a department store or the mall, we give eachother this look and a smile that is priceless. There's a nice pop-punk quality to it (which is different from anything on their first album), although the chorus is a pure adrenaline rush reminescent of early Asia.
"Love Like Rockets" is another "classic AvA" song, with those trademark sequenced keyboards and drums. The intro is perfectly epic, utilising sound samples of President Eisenhower, astronauts, and various radio chatter and feedback that brings to mind the Space Race of the 50's and 60's. Tom seems to be making a parallel between the giddy rush of new love, and launching on a rocket into an unknown frontier.
"Breathe" is sort've a ballad with nice soft keyboards. "Sirens" is fast-paced and frenetic and the chorus reminds me of The Proclaimers. "Secret Crowds" has a huge chorus, although I love the music and words during the verses a bit more. "Star of Bethlehem/True Love" was originally recorded for a compilation CD in late 2006, and is mixed a little differently on I-Empire. Another mini-epic, with trancey sequencers and Edge-like guitar effects. "Lifeline" has a keyboard sound that immediately brought me fresh memories of 1985, considering that it sounded exactly like the intro to Reading Rainbow.
"Jumping Rooftops" is a cut-and-pasted percussion and keyboard interlude that leads into "Rite of Spring", which is another relatively experimental song, sounding more raw and punky as Tom reflects on his teenage life. (He said that he wanted to write a song that would sound like a garage band's first tune, written in high school.) The album ends with "Heaven", reprising musical and lyrical themes from "Valkyrie Missile", the opening track on We Don't Need To Whisper, effectively ending the two-album concept and bringing things full circle.
The lyrics continue in the same vein of We Don't Need To Whisper, and are positively infectious in their optimistic spiritual outlook, topics of reformation and reinvention, living your dreams, and never giving up. This is a message that I wish more Top 40 bands would preach, and is vastly needed during the hard times we live in. Being a grounded but optimistic person myself (as well as having a love for the 80's, Sci-Fi, and prog-rock), this band is perfect blend of my favorite things.
Overall, I-Empire sounds quite a bit like their last album, although has a couple of curveballs and is a little more organic sounding. New bassist Matt Wachter (formerly of 30 Seconds To Mars) and guitarist David Kennedy don't stand out too much (being buried behind layers of effects and keyboards, not to mention Tom's own playing), but drummer Atom Willard continues with greatness previously seen before, with a fiery, explosive energy, awesome fills, and a rhythmic groove that very nearly puts him in the "virtuoso" category. Check out his electronic/acoustic percussion showcase throughout the first few minutes of "Star of Bethlehem/True Love" (notably performed just as perfect in a live setting when I caught the band live in early 2008.)
The album artwork is a departure from the last one, instead featuring a painted montage (by Drew Struzan, famous movie poster artist of Lucas and Spielberg) of the band over a sunset horizon. Yet another reference to a positive 80's childhood.
If AvA fans can't get enough of this type of sound, I'd strongly recommend some other prog-rock bands such as Pendragon (Believe or Pure), 30 Seconds To Mars, It Bites (The Tall Ships or The Big Lad In The Windmill), Rush (Grace Under Pressure or Power Windows), dredg, Coheed & Cambria and Asia."