Named Alternative Press’ Breakthrough Band of the Year, Crown the Empire has risen to prominence in the music scene for the last few years. I can recall their performance at Unsilent Night Festival in 2011, which happened to be around the time they released their EP Limitless. The crowd raved and swayed to the band’s energetic performance; it was then that I realized that these guys were onto something special. After The Fallout, their breakthrough release with Rise Records, Crown the Empire became an “overnight” success. That record laid the foundation and concepts for their latest release, The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways.
Using the themes from The Fallout, Crown the Empire continues the telling of their conceptual story. This is mainly done through the use of ominous voice recordings that are used as transitions into some songs. They also continue with the rounding out of a perfect trilogy with a character known as ‘Johnny.’ The songs featuring Johnny are “Johnny Ringo”, “Johnny’s Revenge”, and “Johnny’s Rebellion.” A fan helpfully pointed out the premise of this storyline. The character strikes a deal with the devil, learns he was tricked and is sent to Hell, attempts his revenge but fails, then gathers an army to rebel against the devil, and then succeeds. Though it seems like the character arc could be over, who knows how far they’ll continue to perpetuate this storyline?
Setting aside from the themes of the album, the overall feel of the album is as solid as it is diverse. Crown the Empire has used this release to further hone in on their distinct style, and the result is great. The varying instrumental pieces (“Millennia”, “Satellites (Act III)”) add many layers to Crown the Empire’s sound, and create an atmosphere that remains throughout the record. Musicians Brent Taddie (drums), Benn Suede (guitar), Brandon Hoover (guitar), and Hayden Tree (bass) don’t stick to the generic formula, but combine tasty guitar licks, melodic solos, and heavy breakdowns to keep listeners interested. Tracks like “Johnny’s Rebellion,” that is described as ‘circus-core,’ also showcase the guitarist’s talent with a Avenged Sevenfold-esque solo.
Vocalists Dave Escamilla and Andy Leo shine on this record as well, seamlessly switching singing responsibilities throughout every song. The interesting dynamic between the two is displayed in their live performance, also due to the fact that both can scream and sing. I must admit, Escamilla’s singing isn’t as strong as Leo’s, but both pull off great feats, using one another for support. Their lyrical work has matured greatly, as well. The conceptual story told through their albums speaks to the hearts of the their fans, and can be viewed from multiple perspectives. The Resistance follows a character (portrayed on the album cover) named Bones, and his band of ‘runaways’.
If all we are is just machines,
Then we must be the cogs inside the wheels of change.
While this is a solid release from a great band, the music is regrettably forgettable. However, this is just a response from my personal tastes and I’m positive that their general fan base is enthused with this release.