New Empire – In A Breath


Artist

Album

In A Breath

Label

Shock Records/Tooth & Nail

Year

2014

Genre

For Fans Of

Switchfoot - 30 Seconds To Mars

Summary

An incredible third release from Sydney pop rockers.

Rating

91 / 100

Sydney’s New Empire have come a very long way from some very humble beginnings. After their most recent album, ‘Symmetry’, gave them recognition on a worldwide level (including earning them a spot on the 2012 US Warped Tour among other international tour dates), the band spent the better part of a year working on the follow-up, ‘In A Breath’.

Tale Of Jonah’ starts things off slowly, building up from a sound featuring nothing more than Jeremy Fowler’s vocals and a guitar playing arpeggios in the background into an epic soundscape with layers upon layers of texture, surrounding a brilliant hook throughout the chorus (“I once was king of the world, and I lived inside of a whale”).

When the band first introduced ‘The Sun Won’t Sleep’ into their live show a year and a half ago, it seemed a little lifeless. A year and a half later, that view of the song couldn’t be more wrong. Right from the beginning, the song is vibrant and energetic, and has a great deal happening in the background. Of particular note, the backing vocals in the final chorus are absolutely stellar, both in the harmonies and the call and response ‘whoa-oa-oa.’ Kyle Lane (who stepped into the position of lead guitarist from his previous role as the band’s bassist last year) does an excellent job on this track, and sets aside any worries that he would struggle to fill the hole left by ex-guitarist Peter Gillies.

Say It Like You Mean It’ and ‘Fallen Soldiers’ are both ideal examples of the group’s ability to write songs that would feel right at home in a packed arena. The former again shows off Fowler’s vocal range between the verse and chorus and features a hook in the chorus that will be stuck in your head for weeks after listening, while the latter shows a strong influence from acts like 30 Seconds To Mars and Placebo. However, it still maintains a sound that is distinctly New Empire.

In A Breath’ gives off a vibe very similar to Matt Corby’s ‘Resolution.’ While, drummer Kale Kneale has stepped up in an enormous way on this release, making his mark on every single track. Tracks like ‘Outshine The Brightest’ and the previously mentioned ‘Fallen Soldiers’ stand out in part due to Kneale’s work behind the kit, but it’s ‘Wise Fox’ where the drummer really shows us what he brings to be the quartet. 

Left Behind’ sees the band step out of their comfort zone in two huge ways. Firstly, the track has a lot of electronic influences in it, something that the band hasn’t really experimented with in previous releases, and it pays off well. The second is a section of spoken word performed by Fowler with heavy effects laced over the top of it, which, while not poorly done by any means, will challenge the band’s fan base a lot, and unless listened to with an open mind, may not win them over.

For all of its positives, however, ‘In A Breath‘ isn’t without its shortcomings. Lead single ‘Relight The Fire,’ feels incredibly rushed. It’s not that it’s bad, but more that you can’t help but feel like the band could have done better somehow with the song. That said, the song is fantastically written (as shown in the stripped back acoustic version on the end of the album), it just could have been executed a lot better.

Conclusion

Three albums in, New Empire have stepped things up in a big way on ‘In A Breath.’ Despite a couple of minor flaws, the album is an incredible piece of work that stands out above anything the band has ever released.

Tracklisting

  1.  Tale of Jonah
  2. The Sun Won’t Sleep
  3. Relight The Fire
  4. Say It Like You Mean It
  5. In A Breath
  6. Wise Fox
  7. Fallen Soldiers
  8. Left Behind
  9. A Little Braver
  10. Outshine The Brightest
  11. Relight The Fire (Acoustic)

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