Listening – End of an Empire by Celldweller
Track by Track Thoughts for End of an Empire (EoaE)
A driving electronic beat, catchy chorus, progressive intensity, and an uplifting message may all cause you to hit repeat a few times before even going further into EoaE. And that’s really okay. Polished and raw at the same time, this anthem holds promises for both a new future and the end to the old. Yet as I consider the placement of this track, I feel as if the hubris and pride demonstrated in the lyrics are a foreshadowing how short lived this new empire may be.
End of an Empire
More guitar driven and rock style in percussion, but cinematic in execution, this song declares the end of an empire in no uncertain terms. The original chapter titles of the two song release format find their way into the lyrics: “Time” “Dreams” “Love” and “Death” are all referenced, unifying the themes of EoaE. This title track smoothly transitions from one style to another, and just when you think the song is ending, it surges back to life with even more urgency and drive.
In addition to being dark and heavy, Klayton is also incredibly clever and humorous with this tongue-in-cheek song, filled with hyperbole, dramatic imagery, and cheesy-cool. Note, this particular song (along with “Good L_ck, Yo_’re F_cked”) is responsible for the Explicit Lyrics Advisory rating, with the oft repeated refrain “I f_cking love you.” It makes sense within the song context, and as a rather cool bonus “clean” versions of both songs are included with the digital download (more on that at the end of this post). Oh, and the song is super catchy, so I am appreciative for the clean versions.
Just Like You
I originally felt that the song could have been a never released Circle of Dust track. It’s rich, emotional, yet comparatively minimalist approach is driven by smooth vocals that are personal and intimate, brutal and infectious, and not unlike elements of “Against the Tide” another of my favorites from Celldweller‘s previous album, Wish Upon a Blackstar. At 5:03 in length, it’s also the shortest piece on the album, up to this point.
Favorite Lyric: “The stormwinds are growing as my dreams are blowing away…Just like you.”
Lost in Time
The brooding tone of Just Like You melt into the epic journey that is Lost in Time. This song was originally released with an official lyric video that included dinosaurs with lasers, and it’s difficult to picture anything else once you see the video. However, if you have listened to Klayton’s collaboration with mindfreak Criss Angel (the original Angeldust album), you might hear a familiar sound that is welcome, yet fresh. At this point, I realize I am listening to another 7 minute song, and loving every bit of it. Not an easy feat to accomplish.
Good L_ck (Yo_’re F_cked)
In the vein of Heart On, this song is both cheesy-cool and loaded with F-bombs (also given the clean variation treatment). But below the surface of the lyrics is profound depth:
By far my favorite piece from this album, Jericho is smooth, addictive, and a cautionary tale to the many self-absorbed, self-righteous, and arrogant. Bonus points for reference the city that found its impenetrable walls defeated and itself exposed without defense. The lyric pattern and cadence of the song remind me so much of Klayton’s early work in Circle of Dust, which coincidentally contribute a remix on this album (Jericho: Circle of Dust Remix).
Breakout (feat. Scandroid)
A song for the ages, and the dance floor. A perfectly executed concept piece, this song ties Klayton’s clone from the future (Red of Scandroid) into the world of EoaE (it’s a long story, but it’s all good). And you really wont have time to think about the nuances, as this song is pure fist-pumping, fight the man, 1980’s/2513’s synthpop/rock goodness.
I love it.
Favorite Lyrics: “And we eye the sky through prison bars, Hope fading with the light.”
Down to Earth
Again I hear what I loved about Circle of Dust embedded in this song, especially the delivery of the line “You’re falling…down to Earth“…and I could not be more thrilled. We again have themes of pride, arrogance, and the fall. For fans of the Celldweller debut album, you will also feel a sense of home in the sounds of Down to Earth.
Electric Organ. 80’s power ballad stylings. Celldweller‘s signature electronics, even vibes of Frozen (the song, not the Disney Movie). What an amazing song. Both a spiritual ascent into the afterlife and a mirror/bookend for the opening New Elysium, this song is a fitting conclusion for the journey of EoaE. Oh, and it’s another 7 minute epic journey of bliss.
Jericho (Circle of Dust Remix)
Ok, this blindsided me. I never expected to actually have any new material identified as Circle of Dust, as I understood Klayton to be very future focused…but for whatever reasons he choose to resurrect the CoD moniker I am grateful beyond words. CoD was a significant part of my formative years in Jr. High School/High School, and this remix is nostalgic, futuristic, and I cannot stop smiling – ok, I guess there is no way for me to be objective on this remix…
But this is everything I could ever hope for: on point programming, crunchy guitars, and 90’s style samples, culminating with “you are fragile” from CoD‘s swansong Disengage…it almost makes me feel like this mix was created personally for me (I guess I am that narcissistic?).