Eye Empire have returned with a brand new album Evolve, and hot damn, it’s a good one! First of all, the thickness of the sound will have you swearing this is a five-piece band. Secondly, the mix on this record is crystal clear. I especially like that the drums and bass are high up in the mix without overpowering anything else; you can feel every note, every kick drum, and snare hit, and it all fits together seamlessly. If Corey Lowery (Bass), B.C. Kochmit (Guitar), Donald Carpenter (Vocals), Ryan Bennett (Drums) were onto something with their debut, Moment of Impact, that hunch has been refined into something serious on this one.
First song “One Day” doesn’t waste a second and is here to kick some ass right off the bat. Title track “Evolve” is next and has a bit of a Sevendust feel to it, not surprisingly though, because Corey Lowery’s brother Clint plays in that band, so they share musical DNA. Regardless, it’s a pretty badass track, as is “Rise (Wake Up)”, slightly slower in tempo, but chock full’o tasty riffs and a chorus you’ll be singing for hours. There’s something really interesting about “Beyond the Stars”, in that it’s a broad, sweeping, and uplifting kind of song with a positive message that, as I’ve said before, is sorely missing today.
“Weakness” has a nice chugga-chugga riff going on the verses before it speeds up on the chorus, and “Bleed” has probably the angriest vocals, thus making it one I gravitated to repeatedly. The fact that all the members of Eye Empire were in other known bands before really comes through on “Head High” because it sounds familiar, without sounding like a retread of past works. It’s also got a nice groove going for it. All of a sudden, out of left field, comes this slow and steady number “The Man I Am” which is another high point of the album. With haunting vocals, a simple yet busy drum pattern, a killer solo, and a grinding tempo, this one is instantly memorable for all the right reasons.
“Can’t Forget” pulls the old trick play I am so fond of, acting like it’s gonna spike the ball, then throwing a TD pass with :01 left on the clock, sealing the victory for the Eye Empire boys in their big game. Of course, there is a fumble, or two. Not bad songs, per se, just not up to par with what is otherwise one hell of a record. These would be “Don’t Look Back”, and “Within”. The first one just doesn’t really have anything that makes it stand out, and something about the chorus on the second just didn’t thrill me.
Of course, it’s all made better by album closer “Live Loud”, a piano and synth-driven ballad that is sheer perfection. If I hadn’t already picked my Song of the Year for 2013, this would 100% be in the running. I have to revisit a word from earlier, uplifting. When Donald Carpenter sings, “I’m at peace now”, not only do I believe him, but I can’t help but feel the same way. Plus Kochmit absolutely GOES OFF on the guitar solo, making this the one that stands head and shoulders above what is already a very impressive collection of songs. I’m so sorry I missed these guys here in Dallas last week, and I can only hope that they return in 2014. Evolve is one seriously kickass body of work, and I recommend it highly.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Can’t Forget”, “One Day”, “Beyond the Stars”, “Live Loud”, “The Man I Am”, “Bleed”