I Am Empire Debut| Posted March 24, 2011 The debut album by this San Jose based quintet, collectively called I Am Empire, and follows a similar pattern and sound expected from a band on Tooth & Nail Records. Produced in Nashville by Rob Hawkins with such artist credits as Disciple and Fireflight, Kings displays the band’s rock format through emotional displays of anger management while also recognizing God’s power and the amazing grace shown in the Savior, Jesus.
Led by vocalist Austin Lyons, the album starts out with the song Brain Damage. His vocal tone may be compared to Kevin Young of the band Disciple in this track and with the common elements of rock, from the guitars led by Andrew Stanton and Dan Otis, to the drumming styles of Eric Martin, Brain Damage only prelude to the heavier rock sound displayed on this record. Backing the lead vocals and accompanying on bass is Joshua Case, adding another essential element of rock. The next couple of songs, Heart Attack and Saints & Sinners show a release from struggle and abandonment that presents itself in a sound style reminiscent of the 1980’s big hair rock band days.
Hammers & Anvils offers the listener a display of the band’s skills in a slower tempo. Through all the heartache and pain recognized in the writer, he recognizes God as one to always be there regardless of the situation. “Oh it’s hope that has embraced me, and my God that won’t forsake me. Sweet Jesus you’re amazing. You save me every single time I fall down. Rain down your hammers and anvils, let’s build something great for the world to see….Rain down your love.” The next track, Love & Despair starts out with a short guitar solo before introducing the drums and then the vocals in this almost ethereal tune. Characteristically, this track displays an almost praise and worship-like sound, worthy of reaching for the sky and waving cellphones in the air. To The Moon follows, bringing back the 80s rock sound and transitioning into The Elevator to pick up the pace halfway thru the album.
Next up is Dig You Out, more of a pop-rock track that slows the album again before followed by the power ballad Take Me Away. You’re A Fake features great guitar riffs towards the end of the track and may be a reason for the decision to release it as a current radio single. Next to last, Foxhole picks up the pace again, showing off more of the band’s guitar driven rock in this anthem, stating “don’t stay, don’t stay, I never knew you anyway.” This song, along with the final track with it’s southern rock style, It’s Not Fair, goes back to the history of Austin Lyons and how he was writing in response to his biological and adoptive stepfather leaving his family behind.
Closing Thoughts In closing, as a returning reviewer for Christian Music Review, it was a pleasure to review this album as it did grow on me and was quite catchy after listening it thru several times. Recommended for its music and production quality, it does lack a bit in the message department. Hammers & Anvils seems to be the richest in regards to bringing forth the message of God’s grace and the amazing love shown thru Jesus, but if you’re a fan of rock bands, such as Disciple and The Almost, I'd recommend at least taking a listen to the album. As far as creativity is concerned, the band and album is representative of the expected sound to come out of Tooth & Nail Records.
I Am Empire: "Kings" Review| Posted February 22, 2011 Throughout 2010, Tooth and Nail® signed a large batch of artists, including Rocky Loves Emily, Hyland and Swimming with Dolphins and I Am Empire. Now on January 25th 2011, I Am Empire release their debut album Kings, after only just forming in 2008. They are an upcoming band that have a lot of potential, and are almost certainly destined for success in the future.
I would describe I Am Empire as possessing a high energy, heavier than usual alternative rock sound, also comparing them to the likes of Disciple and Flyleaf. Their music is driven by incredible guitar solos and soaring vocals from the lead vocalist Austin Lyons, along with occasional screams. This album includes a vast range of genres, including metal, pop rock and even southern rock. A hint of 80's metal influence can also be found on the opener "Brain Damage" as well as "Saints and Sinners".
Kings was born out of the fractured childhood of the lead vocalist Austin Lyons. Austin's father abandoned him and his mum when he was only ten years of age, which created a lot of anger in Austin's heart. A few years down the track however, a stepfather came along and became very close to the family. However his stepfather also left, which compelled Austin to write the songs for the album. The album's theme of abandonment is highlighted in the opener "Brain Damage". It has an epic chorus that specifically states "We are the sons and daughters of broken homes". The opening track is a passionate rock anthem, with an extremely catchy chorus and an incredible guitar solo. It also maintains a catchy melodic guitar riff throughout its entirety, making it a stand out off the album and a great introduction of what's to come.
"Heart Attack" is an explosive and catchy track from the first seconds, where you're introduced to the crafty guitar work of lead guitarist Andrew Stanton. Next up is the first single and fan favourite "Saints & Sinners". This song goes back to the album's theme, with Austin Lyons expressing some anger with the words "How can you be a saint when you're a sinner like me?". While it does possess some incredible guitar handiwork, the whiney vocals and the "Ha,ha,ha" in the second verse really let down the intended effect of the song, making it my least favourite off the album. "Hammers & Anvils" revisits the topic of Austin's dad leaving; how he handled the situation and his thanks to Jesus for pulling him through. "Oh it's hope that has embraced me/And my God who won't forsake me/Sweet Jesus you're amazing/You save me every single time I fall down."
"Love & Despair" slows down proceedings with some crafty delay guitar effects, before entering back into the passionate rock anthems with "To The Moon" and "The Elevator", exposing some pure hair metal influence and offering some intense guitar solos. Although "The Elevator" only lasts about two and a half minutes it is another standout off the album, with its engaging lyrics, pounding drum beat and crunchy guitar distortion. The duration of the guitar solo isn't very long, but it is still the best off the album.
In the midst of the straightforward hard rock tunes that the album has to offer, I Am Empire also provides us with a slow ballad on "Take Me Away". In this acoustic driven and emotional ballad, Austin pleads with God to take him away from his painful situation and regret of his father leaving. The closing track "It's Not Fair" is another acoustic driven track that also vividly describes his father leaving the family and is an excellent summary of the album as a whole.
Overall, Kings was a good listen with some edgy and passionate rock anthems. The album cover is also very unique, making the album stand out on the shelves of a music store. There are a lot of in-your-face and energetic pump up songs on this album, but that wasn't always a positive with my viewpoint. The occasional wild screaming vocals from Austin Lyons was what severely let some of the tracks down, along with a few tracks that lacked altogether. However for a young band, I Am Empire's guitar work is incredible, which for me was the saving grace for the album. I wouldn't necessarily pay full price for this album, but if you see it at a discount I definitely recommend you pick it up. I've never been a big fan of Tooth and Nail artists, and I Am Empire don't change that fact. However they are a band with a truckload of potential that are sure to gain huge success in the future.
Good, but| Posted February 02, 2011
This album would be a good album to get on a discount. I really wouldn't pay full price for it, but it is still worth getting. This new band has a lot of room for improvement, but they do have a song that will get them going, "Brain Damage." The video isn't the greatest, but it is a good start.
4.5/5| Posted January 26, 2011
I Am Empire is Tooth and Nail's latest acquisition and just so happen to be kicking off the new year with the release of their new album. Right off the bat you'll think of 80's metal as the first seconds of the opening track "Brain Damage" hit your eardrums. Keep that thought in your mind because most of the album sounds like it, with heavy-hitting guitar riffs and incredible guitar solos. The few ballads that are on this album also sound like something straight out of the 80's. Lyrically, this album deals with the theme of overcoming hardships, something lead singer Austin Lyons has dealt with all of his life. He has stated that the basis of this album came from his tough childhood upbringing and that is certainly identifiable in the album like in the chorus of "Brain Damage" where he sings, "We are the sons and daughters of broken homes."
Kings is a great album that is sure to please rock fans and build up the already incredible fan base that I Am Empire already has.