Sound — 5
Eye Empire is a hard rock band formed in 2009 from the ashes of Submersed. Released independently, "Evolve" is their second full-length album after 2010's "Moment of Impact" (rereleased in 2012 as "Impact"). This is their first full album with new drummer Ryan Bennett, formerly of the band Texas Hippie Coalition.
The album's production is not particularly good: while no instrument seems too overbearing in the mix and the vocals aren't drowned out by the instrumentation, at times the album sounds overly polished and has very little breathing space, working to its detriment.
Nothing in particular sticks out in regards to the album's bass or drums - the main focus here is very much placed on the guitars and vocals. Thankfully, guitarist B.C. Kochmit provides some gnarly soloing throughout - "Rise" and "Can't Forget" are just two examples of this. The riffs on the other hand at times sound similar and there is very little variation.
And this is where the unfortunate realisation comes - every song on "Evolve" shares the same song structure. With the possible exception of "Live Loud," which makes use of synthesisers to emulate strings, every song sounds mind-numblingly similar. It is clear that there is very little innovation displayed by the band here and as a result "Evolve" sorely lacks in replay value, so to speak.
Lyrics — 5
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Donald Carpenter's vocals shine on every track. His voice is particularly poignant and he displays his range well. The harsher vocals sparsely scattered around the album aren't as interesting, but are not used frequently enough to become truly bothersome.
Lyrically, the record is extremely lacking. Most of the songs either tackle conflict or attempt to motivate, a similar message displayed by some other bands of this genre, yet the majority of "Evolve"'s lyrical content comes across as cliché and at times juvenile, as clearly displayed in the perhaps appropriately titled "Weakness":
"When you shake my hand better look me in the face,
Let my senses see if this moment is a waste.
Every time I look into your eyes, I see fear,
I see fear feed the lies"
Similar lyrical displays are found throughout - another example being "Head High."
"Sacred circumstances brings forth the maker,
(You can see what you're made of now).
I can feel your longing just to be,
(To be what you wanted)"
The lucid indication here is that while Carpenter's voice is excellent, his lyrical content can be improved upon.
Overall Impression — 4
Eye Empire's sophomore effort unfortunately suffers from an overall lack of both variation and innovation, and as a result the record quickly falls victim to monotony. The sole standout track the album's closer "Live Loud," as it appears to be the only track on "Evolve" with even a degree of differentiation. It seemingly requires practice in order to determine which track is which - it is extremely difficult to tell initially, and this ultimately proves to be Eye Empire's downfall.
The individual talents displayed by Carpenter and Kochmit do seemingly grant the potential to release a stronger effort in the future, but if Eye Empire instead decides to continue down the route of monotonous songwriting and rehashed song structures, the future looks bleak for this band.