Blank Page Empire – Sinners, Thieves, and Beggars
Record Label: None
Release Date: May 16, 2010
After the break-up of As Cities Burn, it appeared that the Christian ambient/heavy scene would experience a dearth of renewal for some time. However, it appears that Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Blank Page Empire are here to fill this new-found void. Reminiscing both the heavy Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest ACB and their late Hell Or High Water sound, BPE will surely fill the void felt by many. With only their debut record, Sinners, Thieves, and Beggars, Blank Page Empire fully covey the fact that they know exactly what they want to accomplish with their music; the passion of their Christian lyrics, the soaring vocals of Ryan Menghini, and the ambient nature of their sound all embed the true fervor BPE hold within.
While the opening track “The Stargazer” sets up Sinners as an ambient record, the following “The Amazing Two-Headed Man” begins with gut-wrenching screams, exemplifying the unwavering zeal the band possesses. “The Void I Couldn’t Shake” follows this formula, as Menghini hauntingly shouts “and I have been waiting for years..and you have ignored my cries / Their mouths wide like graves / They swallow me whole!” Unexpectedly, “The Vagabond” is an upbeat track breaching the gap toward pop music before switching to guttural screams.
Musically, Blank Page Empire professes cohesive musicianship throughout this record – impressive for only being their debut. The guitarists form around Menghini’s vocals splendidly, as Cameron Bartlett’s drumming keeps the pace and tone of each track. From the atmospheric tracks to the heavy periods of screams, the instrumentation captures each mood precisely. In this way, it’s impossible not to note the effort each member exerts and puts forth to the band, as each track presents the true talent of Blank Page Empire.
Albeit all may seem formulaic and similar thus far, the haunting “The Seas Lonesome Drone” starts softly before building up to haunting group choir chants, while the later “The Idle Hands” proves the grandiose skill of guitarist Nate Washburn as another vocal pinnacle. Similarly, the interlude “The Lighthouse Keeper” features the repetitive chanting of “we’re all broken vessels / there’s no ship to sail” until the final “The Beacon” and “The Conclusion” close Sinners, Thieves, and Beggars. With the former being an atmospheric religious number and the latter channeling TREOS through and through, these final tracks prove that BPE undoubtedly saved the best for last.
The final chanting of “The Conclusion” proves religion to be the prime driving force throughout Sinners, as Blank Page Empire proclaim their beliefs throughout each track; however, they in no way isolate their audience to Christians, as BPE’s music will surely be heard by many. After all, every type of person goes through hardships searching for hope, thus creating a common unity of listeners. Only being a debut album, Sinners, Thieves, and Beggars will take many by surprise, for it is one of the best releases of its kind this year.