I’ll Be An Empire label themselves as progressive hardcore. I have never before seen that subgenre, so naturally I was very interested in their debut album ‘Aquarias’. Formed from the merging of two Kennesaw bands in 2011, the band have released one EP and have taken influence from massive progressive bands like Substructure, Born of Osiris, and The Contortionist. They signed with Total Deathcore on April 14th of this year and released this album through us.
The opening track, Sigma, is one of the most unique and diverse tracks I’ve ever heard while writing for TD. It begins as a standard hardcore track with certain elements of beatdown and downtempo hardcore, but after a while it starts to gently morph into a much more progressive and experimental track, making excellent use of outstanding time signatures and harmonic riffs. The entire track changes from aggressive hardcore to calming, space-influenced prog metal in one smooth motion, something that is very rarely done well. The second track, Capitalist, again begins with a hard hitting intro, accompanied with some hate-filled vocals from Austin Lanham, but as was the case with the previous track, it rapidly changes into something a lot more unique and distinguishable from other bands. The use of strange time sigs and counts is absolutely stellar on this album, and as I listened through the entire album not once did I get bored. However, the track once again changes it’s camoflague and becomes a rapid attack on the listeners ears with standard hardcore riffs and vocals, simply done in a progressive format.
The third track, Frequency, is yet again a massive change from the previous track’s sound and format, this time it is a slower, more eerie sound with some BoO synths and keyboards mixed in, as well as piercing melodies from the two guitarists Nick Stratigos and Jake Boyette becoming ever more prominent in the mix. The entire album turns on it’s head at track four, Purge. It becomes a rage filled and speedy mix of SS-esque high screams and hardcore shouts and growls, progressive riffs worthy of a Periphy track, and finger breaking sweep picking that makes me feel like I’m listening to Rings Of Saturn all of a sudden. There is so much on offer on this album, and it is a style of playing and production that I have never ever heard before. It’s just so refreshing, and I love it. Purge ends on a haunting solo/experimental riff on the guitar, heavily subsidised with pedal effects and string bends.
All of the song titles on the album are one word jobs, and the fifth number, Indigo, follows this trend. This, and the other final three tracks on this album are more of the same wonderfully creative and insane experiments I’ll Be An Empire have managed to produce. Every instrument is perfectly mastered and can be heard well in the overall mix, and every element also takes it’s own place on the album, coming together to form a beautiful symphony of batshit crazy metal that me, and all the other listeners enjoy so much.
This album is going to be on repeat for days, probably weeks on my speakers. I can’t get enough of this, and I can’t encourage you enough to buy it. Simply perfect.