Alesana - The Emptiness

Album cover
Post-hardcore
Fearless Records
Alesana
The Emptiness
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Webster’s Dictionary defines “emptiness” as something “lacking reality, substance, meaning, or value or lacking purpose or result” (I’m sure you’ve never heard an opening quite like that before). It also happens to be the name of Alesana’s third studio offering. What do these two things have in common? Well, the definition of the word describes the album to a tee. The Emptiness is just that.

After dabbling in Greek mythology (2006’s On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax) and folk tales (2008’s Where Myth Fades To Legend), Alesana finally decided to be inventive. The band produced a concept album based on an original story. The gruesome tale revolves around a sketch artist in late 19th century England and his lover, Annabel, who was murdered whilst they slept. Each song is a new chapter in the 50-minute saga. The first song, “Curse of the Virgin Canvas,” begins with a spoken word segment that introduces the story, one that “will torture your thoughts by day/and poison your dreams by night/there are no words that can be written that can describe the stark and utter horror.” The band not only described the story that will follow, but the listener’s probable reaction upon hearing the rest of the album.

To a lesser extent, there is some semblance of time travel involved in the story, which is fitting for Alesana because the band is stuck in a world of metalcore past. The formula of dueling, harmonizing guitars, displaced growls and pitchy vocals was prevalent in 2005, but most bands comparable to Alesana have since progressed. Every song adheres to some variation of this formula. Vocalist Dennis Lee’s screams are both misplaced and miserable. He sounds like an awful mash-up of The Number 12 Looks Like You’s Jase Korman and Bring Me The Horizon’s Oliver Sykes. Nothing on the album particularly stands out. There are trade-off vocals aplenty (the band has four capable vocalists, but only two stand out) and muddled breakdowns that will garner more snickers than mosh pits. Credit must be given to Alesana for trying to step outside of the box and conceiving a creative story from scratch. Yet, it comes off so hackneyed that it is hard to take The Emptiness seriously.

Alesana has once again attempted to break through the glass ceiling, but yet cannot even make a crack. The band seems destined to remain on the outside looking in unless a serious musical maturation process takes place. In the mean time, however, Alesana has yet to prove why it belongs in today’s scene. The aforementioned spoken word segment ends with the short quip, “The emptiness will haunt you.” It sure will.

1. Curse Of The Virgin Canvas
2. The Artist
3. A Lunatic’s Lament
4. The Murderer
5. Hymn For The Shameless
6. The Thespian
7. Heavy Hangs The Albatross
8. The Lover
9. In Her Tomb By The Sounding Sea
10. To Be Scared By An Owl
11. Annabel

Alesana (pronounced /ˈælɨs ˈænə/ Alice-Anna) is an american six piece post-hardcore band from Raleigh, North Carolina formed 2004. The band has released three full length albums and one EP to date.

Current members are Dennis Lee (screaming vocals), Shawn Milke (lead vocals, guitars, piano, synth, keys, programming, string composition), Patrick Thompson (lead guitar, backing vocals), Jeremy Bryan (drums, percussion), Shane Crump (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Jake Campbell (rhythm guitar, backing vocals).

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