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The Empire Shall Fall - "Volume 1: Solar Plexus" (CD/EP)

The Empire Shall Fall - "Volume 1: Solar Plexus" CD/EP cover image

"Volume 1: Solar Plexus" track listing:

1. The Genesis of These Scars
2. Dubrise
3. Narrow, the Path I Walk Pt I
4. Narrow, the Path I Walk Pt II
5. As The City Sleeps
6. The Martyr's Song
7. The First Redemption

Reviewed by on February 13, 2012

"For a 26-minute EP, there's quite a bit of repeat value to 'Solar Plexus.'"

Following up the debut album, "Awaken" (reviewed here), The Empire Shall Fall has prepared an album to be released in three parts as EPs before being joined together on one future cohesive album release. This first part, "Solar Plexus," is a logical continuation of mostly the same sound locked in on "Awaken," which seemed to be a winning combination of brazen politically-charged hardcore and bluesy metal.

DIY acts have never been hotter than this point in time, and The Empire Shall Fall flies the DIY flag proudly. The band both engineered and produced the album, as well as recorded in its own Angle Side Side studio and released through the band’s own label. As the first of three releases, there's just no way they're going to cover all their bases or show all that they can do. In this first part, the jazz element has been nearly written-out in favor of a focus on guitar riffs a la Meshuggah style and bluesy scream-singing.

Not content to be pigeon-holed as a "political" band due to "Awaken," Jesse Leach's metaphor-laden lyrics this time around allow the songs to be opened up more to interpretation. Whatever he's talking about, the constant with Leach is gruff passion, which he shows in abundance on the four main songs. "The Genesis of These Scars" is no-nonsense get-to-the-point hardcore from the get-go. "Narrow, the Path I Walk" sees Leach developing an iconic chorus after shouting, "Each step taken as I breathe deep / Each sight and sound entices and taunts me."

The guitars are tuned low and use regimented rhythms for locking in with the drums and creating infectious grooves. At times reminiscent of Mnemic, the djent elements are certainly present. "The First Redemption" has a refreshingly Black Sabbath "Fairies Wear Boots" feel to it in the way the band eases into the beat. "As the City Sleeps" has a huge multi-voiced chorus and a surprise saxophone solo drenched in reverb.

For a 26-minute EP, there's quite a bit of repeat value to “Solar Plexus.” Aside from a few weak guitar solos, the level of musicianship and coordination is high. Plus, there's a short piece where Leach indulges his interest in dub music to re-imagine part of "The Genesis of These Scars," as well as a luxurious organ opening to "The First Redemption." "Solar Plexus" is a promising first EP with consistent energy, ending with an emotionally-charged speech.

Highs: "The First Redemption" and the tight rhythm coordination

Lows: Guitar solos lacking in "oomph" factor.

Bottom line: A promising first step in a series of 3 blues-injected hardcore EPs.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)