Alesana - The Emptiness
Record Label: Fearless
Release Date: January 26, 2010
The post-hardcore scene has of late been under heavy criticism from music columnists and topic-related forum members alike for the lack of genuine musicians leading this saturated genre. The focal point of these criticisms have been focused on the multitude of bands who seem to strive for “emo” mediocrity as year after year, acts like Drop Dead Gorgeous, A Static Lullaby, and A Skylit Drive release albums that are completely void of innovation or originality. Alesana’s The Emptiness continues this legacy of bland and uninspired musicianship, which not only perpetuates post-hardcore clichés and idioms, but is also testament to fading musical creativity. Although The Emptiness is the North Carolina natives' third studio album, they have yet to show any major lyrical or musical progression from their previous efforts, as this latest offering fails to bring vast improvement on anything the last few already attempted.
The lyrics of The Emptiness are, as its title implies, composed of vacant thoughts and melodramatic feelings, which encompass themes ranging from death, heartbreak, and pain. Even though this is supposed to be a concept album, the convoluted storyline is impossible to follow, as each track's lyrics seem to be telling the same tired old tale. This lack of variation causes each song to be indistinguishable from the next, which actually led me not to realize that one track had ended and another had begun (e.g. “The Murderer” sounds identical to the next track “Hymn For The Shameless”). The words of a song should be able to evoke an emotion or thought, but after hearing several tracks about loved-ones dying, murder, and mental breakdowns, they begin to lose their impact. “The Murderer” had the most atrocious lyrics of the entire album, as demonstrated by the chorus, where the lead vocalist laments about how dangerous he is and how his “thirst for blood” gives him a hard-on. Okay, so maybe I’m paraphrasing a bit, but the actual line isn’t any better. The only insight of the album is heard at the end of “A Lunatic’s Lament”, which actually has a perceptive line about how the measure of a man’s soul cannot be determined by meters and fathoms. While this isn’t all that creative, it’s the lyrical highlight of the album.
Musically, Alesana employ all of their old tricks from their previous two albums that have them singing, then screaming, then some more singing, then a breakdown. However this time around, the sing-scream-sing formula has been given an extra coating of glossy production that covers up some of weaker instrumentation of some songs with admittedly beautifully composed orchestral portions. This gives some tracks like “Curse of the Virgin Canvas” and “In Her Tomb by the Surrounding Sea” the illusion of being better than they really are, which may have been the band’s plan all along. The snappy guitar work of Patrick Thompson and Jake Campbell is definitely a highlight of the album and gives tracks like “To Be Scared by an Owl” the ability to make even myself bob my head along with the melody.
The Emptiness is a composite album made up of bits and pieces from Alesana’s discography with slight and subtle improvements. However, the albums horrendous songwriting daunts this limited progress, making any efforts from the band absolutely pointless. Alesana seems content with releasing the same album with the same lyrics over and over again, and until drastic change is accomplished, they will be left in an empty rut.