With their new album “EVOLVE”, the Eye Empire guys unleash the follow up to last year’s amazing double album, “Impact” and I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little suspect as to whether they would have a chance in hell of creating something that stood shoulder to shoulder with that album. “Impact” was a deluxe, double CD manifesto that was chock full of really good material. For the unfamiliar, Eye Empire deals in a heavy style of the “active rock/metal” format so popular on radio, doing it with a lot more substance and memorable material than some of the nameless, faceless other bands taking up space on the airwaves. The fact that they manage to have a message and purpose without being completely devoid of fun which may be their most surprising element. I saw them open for one of my current favorite bands, Volbeat and they absolutely held their own and then some; a difficult feat given the unstoppable machine that is Volbeat live. I was more impressed by the Eye Empire guys’ individual performances and was slightly critical of the fact that some of their more melodic material didn’t make the set but nonetheless, the band killed it live.
The question here, first and foremost, is does “Evolve” manage to have the same high level of memorable material as “Impact” while still managing to be its own album and errrrr…evolve? The truth is, while the album does manage to have some it’s own personality, I am so incredibly happy to say it still retains every single element that made me super impressed with “Impact” to begin with. The album opens up with the uber-heavy tracks you might expect after seeing the band live, tracks like “One Day”, “The War Isn’t Over” and “Rise (Wake Up) are all stamped with the signature Pantera/Sevendust type of crunch the band is very skilled at. It’s never redundant, mostly because the guys are still sailing over much of their contemporaries due to the way the melodies and vocals of Donald Carpenter intermingle with the music the band makes. The thing about Eye Empire is that they have the abilities to move far beyond being good at just that one style, like a band like Soundgarden or U2, they have true musical skills and diversity and never hang their singer out to dry.
Their drummer, a young beast of an individual named Ryan Bennett, is literally one of the best performers I’ve seen in years and his stamp is all over this new album. Guitarist B.C. Kochmit and bassist Corey Lowery are the musical architects of Eye Empire and have similar abilities but also the knowledge and savvy to never let their considerable skills get in the way of such good songs. The real test of this album for me was seeing how the band would handle the other, more melodic side of their personality and thankfully, tracks like “Beyond The Stars” “Live Loud” and “I Don’t Want To Leave” prove that the guys are still quite aware that this is a strength of theirs, not a weakness. Don’t get me wrong, despite my love for the band’s sense of melody, muscle and steel still rule much of this album; tracks like “Bleed” and “I Can’t Forget” are not likely to make it to your mom’s mp3 player or your dad’s turntable unless you have the coolest parents ever. That’s okay, Eye Empire are more than skilled at pummeling you but the best thing I can say about “Evolve” is that it is truly a stellar companion piece to “Impact”, warranting back to back listens with its predecessor. This band is putting out great music at a consistently high level so I encourage you to just cue up their entire catalog, including “Evolve”, loudly.
To purchase the new album or get “Evolve” free with the purchase of any T-Shirt or Hoodie please check out the band’s official store here: http://eyeempire.storenvy.com/