I’ll Be An Empire – Aquarius
Record Label: Total Deathcore
Release Date: May 17th 2013
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they finally start to discover music on their own, and they start to discover what they like and what they don’t. That process can take years, because there’s so much music out there, and new music comes out every day. For myself, I was first into a bit of alternative rock and pop-punk, but then it morphed into post-hardcore, metalcore, and deathcore. I was into bands like Escape the Fate, From First to Last, Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, Chelsea Grin, Sleeping With Sirens, The Color Morale, Dance Gavin Dance, and plenty of others. A few of these bands I still enjoy today, but for the most part, my taste has changed quite a bit. Every so often, however, I am willing to listen to a band or two within those genres because I still enjoy the genres, for the most part. I may not listen to them as much as I used to, but that does not mean I won’t ever give them a chance, so when I got an email from a gentleman who owns a management company about reviewing a record called Aquarius by a band called I’ll Be An Empire, I was rather interested. I looked at their Facebook page, and I noticed they were a deathcore band, in the vein of Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, Periphery, and The Cortionist among others. I used to be a fan of these kinds of bands years ago, and I still am, to some degree. I like to keep an open mind, so I went into the band’s new record Aquarius with a very open one at that, and I was very impressed with what I found. To put it simply, it’s a half hour progressive deathcore record. It’s quite heavy, but it’s got a lot of atmospheric and progressive parts to it. It’s not straightforward, nor generic or cliché. In all honesty, I’m quite pleased with this record, because this is the kind of deathcore that I really enjoy. A band like this should not overlooked, especially within the genre that they’re in. “Core” bands are a dime a dozen nowadays, frankly. It’s hard for myself to find a band in these genres that really captures my attentions. It’s possible, and it can be done. For instance, the new Senses Fail record Renacer really caught me off guard, and I really enjoyed it. For the most part, however, bands in these genres really just fall to the wayside for me. People like it, and that’s fine, but for myself, it takes a lot to really draw me in. I’ll Be An Empire, despite its rather generic name, is a band that does just that. They have enough that keeps me going back for more. With that being said, however, let’s take a look at our horoscope and dive into this record, shall we? Get it, because Aquarius is one of the astronomical signs. That was a bad joke, but let’s move on, shall we?
The record begins with “Sigma,” and all of the titles are one word, but that’s just an observation, not a criticism. The song starts very ominously, like you, the listener, know something is about to happen. And that’s a good thing. A very good thing. It takes about a minute or so for the song to truly get started, and when it does, a very slow chugging guitar riff plays while vocalists Austin Lanham and Alex Gignilliant take the reigns with their both distinct styles of screaming; well, they’re not very distinct, but the fact that one of them has higher vocals, and the other has lower vocals. They do even each other out nicely, but they’re not very unique in general. The song ends rather ominously, and quietly, with some ambient instrumentation, which leads into second track “Capitalist.” The first song was about five minutes long, while “Capitalist” is a lot shorter, only about two and a half minutes. This song isn’t too different, but this song is a bit more aggressive. “Sigma” was a rather ambient track with some aggression, but barely. This song, on the other hand, is a lot heavier, and it’s a short burst of deathcore. Thankfully, it’s not just pointless breakdowns all over the place.
As the record goes on, it’s more or less of a combination of very aggressive and ferocious deathcore or progressive and ambient metal. Third track “Frequency” is a more aggressive track, but it has a really awesome guitar riff that dominates the song, and just takes control of it. This is another shorter song at about two minutes, and it’s not necessarily a very interesting song, aside from the really cool guitar riff. While the rest of the record may be more or less of the same, it’s still enjoyable, nonetheless. There are some great moments, like fourth track “Purge.” It doesn’t do too much differently, and it’s mainly an instrumental track, but the musicianship is top notch. In fact, the musicianship is the best part of the record. Tracks like “Sigma,” “Purge,” and on the title track, which is a great track all in itself. It’s another five-minute song, and it’s absolutely brilliant. My other favorite track actually comes a couple tracks later, in the form of “Anunnaki,” which is the closing track. This is the longest song on the record at about six and a half minutes, but it’s one of the best. It starts off with a bang, unlike first track “Sigma.”. This is one of the more “progressive” songs, with sprawling ambient instrumentation, but still does remain heavy and aggressive. Overall, this is a very surprising record for me, because I don’t listen to this genre much anymore, but I decided to give this record a chance because I wanted something new. While this band may not be anything terribly unique, that’s fine, because what they do, they do it quite well, all within the span of 29 minutes.