17 Dec 2018

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Empire To Ashes - Album Review: Beneath

15 Nov 2018 // A review by Carl Hayman

A few of you may have heard the name Jamie Denton from some of NZ’s most powerful underground rock bands from the last 15 to 20 years. Jamie has always laid down the heavy hitting basslines for rock bands ranging in genre from dark moody metal-based bands, to straight up radio rock, to borderline punk. Naquadah, Ishtar and Poison Skies are amongst those bands. After the semi-permanent hiatus of Poison Skies in late 2016 Jamie sought to put a different spin on his music and show that he is much, much more than just a bass player. He has a huge amount of skill in production, songwriting, and even as an engineer. I can’t help but feel that the name Empire To Ashes really tells the story of that moment when each of his bands, which all reached fantastic levels, decided to call it a day.

When I got the opportunity to review one of the new Empire To Ashes albums, it intrigued the hell out of me. I haven’t heard much of Jamie’s solo digital work, but I’ve seen his video editing skills, so I was expecting something big, and to set the tone, he’s hit the nail on the head.

I’ll use one word to sum up the Empire To Ashes album Beneath, and that word is ‘Lugubrious’. Here are some insights; melancholic, woeful, forlorn, despondent, solemn, grim, and I guess that’s the feeling I take from Beneath. There is no two-ways about it, this is an album that has taken Jamie a long time to musically construct a percussive feeling, and the result is absolutely mind-blowing. Don’t be expecting a happy, upbeat, pop tune here, expect a world of darkness that closes in on you as you listen, but inspires thought, and creates mental space.

I am probably reading into it far too much, but after having listened to every song back-to-back over a few glasses of rum, this album actually had the opposite effect on me that I thought it would. I thought the dark, slow tempo, no drumbeat, percussive sound of his tracks would leave me in a dark and moody place, but it didn’t at all, it left me thinking about my own well-being, and my life, and the emotions that have taken place over many years of my life through thick and thin, highs and lows, and where I am today. I hope that’s what Jamie intended when he put pen to paper on these tunes, but with music, the best thing is, there is no right and wrong. Each to their own, and this is the outcome of Empire To Ashes expression of artistic release.

Quite simply, this is brilliant. One man writing every line from the drum beat, to the melody line, to the samples, the effects, mixed brilliantly, and with such perfection. You can tell the man behind the computer is clearly a talented musician with many years under his belt.

My favourite tune would have to be Theodicy: The Problem Of Pain. This tune speaks to me from a level that one would only know of from having spent years alongside somebody in physical or mental pain and the problems that manifest from it. You get lost in the drum beat once you start listening to the lyrics ‘begging for you to be its slave, lies designed to make you stay’ you can almost feel your body start to ache and hurt as much as you can imagine the writer himself trying desperately to escape the clutches of pain and beckoning not to give in.

Beneath is very left-field to my normal listening and review genres and it took me hours to describe this album. However, If you listen to this album, I think every single one of us can genuinely understand the pain, the struggles, the triumphs and the genuine truth that lies within Beneath. I would highly recommend giving yourself the time to listen to this journey from start to finish. Amazing work from Empire To Ashes.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Empire To Ashes

Empire To Ashes is a New Zealand based dark ambient / alternative / electronica / post-rock project, bearing jagged pieces of a ragged soul for your consumption.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Empire To Ashes


[in pieces]
Year: 2018
Type: Album

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