Sound — 9
When Angels and Airwaves first released their debut CD, Blink fans everywhere expected to hear something incredible after hearing Delonge's various statements such as 'This is the best album in 20 years'. Some were disappointed, and some actually preferred it to Blink. A year has passed since their debut and Delonge certainly has comeback with a triumphant sophomore effort. The difference between I-Empire and its predecessor is that I-Empire is noticeably diverse compared to their debut. The sound can be quick to the point and immediate to the ears such as the songs "Everything's Magic" and "Sirens". The choruses in those two songs are immediately catchy and one can't help but think that perhaps these are songs Blink might have come up with themselves. Other songs are still in the same vibe as their debut, such as the opener "Call to Arms" and "Heaven" while Star of Bethlehem is a delightful yet calming experience. The sound is refined and more sure of itself.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics throughout the album are supposed to tie into a concept Delonge first started in their debut, but this one is about conquering one's own world from within and ultimately changing the world around them. Some of Delonge's best lyrics can be found on this cd, this is evident in songs such as "Secret Crowds" and "Lifeline". Other songs can be regarded as simple yet effective ("Breathe", "Love Like Rockets"). Delonge even makes reference to his life so far in the autobiographical song "Rite of Spring", which anyone can find a bit of themselves within the lyrics (E.g. "my skateboard and my shit guitar, I dreamed all day that they would get me far"). The album closes with a song called "Heaven", and it encompasses everything that gives Angels and Airwaves their signature sound: synths/organs, powerful drums, fast verses, calm chorus, graduatlly building bridge, grand outro, etc. The lyrics are quite anthemic in terms of how one should live their life. It is hard to tear down a song with such a positive message.
Overall Impression — 9
If this album was indeed their actual debut instead of "We Don't Need To Whisper", Angels and Airwaves would have faced much less controversy over Tom Delonge's claims. That being said, this is a fantastic album, but is not one for those who are expecting this album to be like the majority of rock albums released so far. It is a unique sound but it has a bit of everything for Blink fans, Angels and Airwaves fans, and even new ones. Of course not everyone will factor into it, but it's more of a question of personal bias against Delonge for trying something different and leaving Blink 182 than it is actualy musical merit. This album is not a bad album by any means and with an open mind it can be truly cherished and enjoyed. It does have moments where it could have been better, but as a sophomore effort it exceeds expectations. Recommended tracks: Call To Arms, Everything's Magic, Secret Crowds, Sirens, Lifeline