Awaken The Empire - Aurora (2015)
MP3 CBR 320 kbps | Tracks: 12 | 46:56 min | 108 Mb
Style: Alternative Rock, Progressive Rock, Electronic | Label: Another Century
Awaken the Empire released their debut EP The Awakening in February of 2011, with every intention of following it with a full-length album soon after. Those plans were delayed, by lineup changes, label changes, tour mishaps and, literally, by life and death, with singer/frontman Damien Lawson losing his mother to cancer shortly following the birth of his son (with bassist Romina Fronti). Four years and some inevitable changes later, Aurora has finally dropped for public consumption. And it has been considerably well worth the wait.
Album cover art for Aurora, the debut full-length album from Awaken the Empire.
Currently on tour with 10 Years, Nonpoint, and the Family Ruin, Awaken the Empire are gaining fans at every stop along the way. What is technically the fourth single from the album, "Cross My Heart," has been picked up by commercial radio stations across the country, as well as being added to the rotation on Sirius XM's Octane hard rock and metal channel. The sixth track on the album has set the band aflame and the momentum it has given them seems to be that of a bullet train.
While "Cross My Heart" has become a fast, easy favorite - and mine, as well - the song I have been most anxiously awaiting since I first heard Lawson mention it, is "Cruel World." And I must say, it was 1000% worth the four years of anticipation.
Lawson's vocal talents may be exercised more on the album's second track than anywhere else on Aurora, as he swells from a near-whisper to a crisp, crystalline belted chorus. One thing is certain as his voice rings through the titular choruses. While some singers find themselves swallowed up by the vast space of an arena show, Lawson has nothing to worry about as Awaken the Empire gains popularity.
The album opens with "Insomniacs Unite," giving an indication of what is to come. The track starts out tame enough but eventually builds to anthemic proportions, with drummer Daryl Falconer at the helm, a chiming suspended cymbal providing much of the song's unique sound, and the strings taking on less assertive roles in the background. Falconer is rarely relegated to the proverbial backseat on any of the album's 12 tracks, with his aggressive bass drum line and sharp snares propelling us from one track to the next.
A literal take on "Insomniacs Unite" is of a subset of society plagued by racing thoughts, rampaging creativity and general alertness that keeps them awake more than most. Digging a little deeper into the metaphorical, "Insomniacs Unite" is more about calling on fans to follow their dreams and actively pursue the lives they want to live, to find others who share their passions and rail against those who try to diminish those dreams, a theme that recurs throughout the album, on tracks like "I‘m Not Invisible" and "Saviour."
"Messy" is a strikingly romantic detour from the minor chords and driven drumbeats that push listeners through the rest of Aurora. From a band finding a comfortable niche among the brooding hard rock sect, "Messy" is an almost, dare I say, chipper and infectious love song. "Messy" is not the album's only love song - both "Nevermind" and "Holding My Breath" bring an atmosphere of intense, burning love to the table, while still maintaining the driving power of hard rock fans are looking for. It is simply the softest side of Awaken the Empire we have heard so far.
"Rise + Fall," the album's first official single, originally released in 2012, is where I take a brief detour around journalistic objectivity. It has been just as easy a favorite of mine as "Cross My Heart." I can't even say it's a close second, with my favorite lyric Lawson has offered us thus far: "Can we unite and rise above our battle scars?" The concept of camaraderie and union working to heal our emotional scars is an idea with which I very often identify.
Coming back from the clear emotional attachment I have developed to the song, there is also a discussion to be had regarding the technical aesthetics of the track. While never breaking from the pack to showboat his way through a complex solo, guitarist Shivan Somaratne has chosen this track as his spotlight, shining, instead, through an audible commitment to the band's intense, cinematic sound. His presence is felt more heavily through "Rise + Fall" but never seeks to overpower. The balance between Somaratne's melody, Lawson's vox, and the combined rhythm section is near perfect.
Even as "Messy" may have taken a detour around the brooding, intense nature of Aurora, the album, as a whole, presents a sense of coherence and a steady ebb and flow of emotional atmosphere that moves us through the album, never jarring us with abrupt changes in that flow. From start to finish, we are drawn into Lawson's mind and into his heart, feeling the passion and emotion he - and the rest of Awaken the Empire - has infused into every note of this debut effort. Four years of anticipation can make anyone, dedicated fan or otherwise, difficult to please and Awaken the Empire has delivered on a promise to not disappoint. Aurora has been well worth the wait.
01. Insomniacs Unite
02. Cruel World
03. We Control The Lights
05. I'm Not Invisible
06. Cross My Heart
07. Rise + Fall
10. A Tribute To Rome
11. Heavy Is The Head That Wears The Crown
12. Holding My Breath