Collapse Under the Empire – The Silent Cry

The Silent Cry cover art

Artist Collapse Under the Empire
Album The Silent Cry
Genre Post-Rock
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Label Sister Jack
Release 12 April 2013
Rating: Solid

Collapse Under the Empire should need little introduction this time around. The well oiled post-rock machine from Germany has released a high caliber, finely tuned and excellently crafted album every year dating back to 2009 to go along with a whole army of singles, splits, Compilations and EP’s. You will only hear praise from me when it comes to just about every track in their discography. They’ve done no wrong and left a lasting impact on the post-rock realm. Call them pioneers, call them leaders, but make no mistake. They create and other bands follow in their giant footsteps.

I’ve put off writing this review as long as I possibly could. Admittedly this review has been by far the toughest review I’ve written in months because I realized that the things I want to say about Collapse Under the Empire will directly conflict with what I wrote about them in my review of their last album ‘Fragments of a Prayer’ 11 months ago. I’m finally ready to cross that line. Let’s get into the content of the ‘The Silent Cry’ first though.

The EP starts off with the electronic beats of “We Are Close as This.” Synths and guitar static paint the scene of a desolate break of dawn. Crescendo guitars murmur amongst a creeping wall of sound that is deeply electronic driven this time around. The calm before the storm right before the three minute mark where the track’s intensity peaks is certainly the highlight of the song. “Stjarna” is up next and kicks off with a chilling piano intro as cymbals lightly crash amidst a field of dramatic synths in a track that’s tempo is aggressively controlled by drumming. My biggest complaint here would be that the track really feels sort of like a staircase to nowhere.

The title track is where the EP picks up to the same level of quality I’m use to hearing from Collapse. Crescendo guitar rattles from the opening minute and the drumming patterns are relatively unique. The focus here is primarily on synths and electronics for the first half of the track until guitar work violently overtakes a solo keyboard effort. Cymbals crash in epic fashion as keyboards find their way back into the mix. Horn-like synths make for a unique ending.

Infernal” opens with strange heavily digitized slap bass that sets the ground work underneath the track. Beats that sound as though they are being processed from several leagues under water join in and the whole track starts to take form feeling heavily experimental and almost free form in some sense. It isn’t until guitar work shines through and drumming intensity picks up that this starts to feel like a C.U.T.E track. This is my favorite track on the EP simply because it’s the most unique feeling to me. “Ashfall” is a return to the more normal output we’ve come to expect from the duo. I really enjoy the keys here and the church bells are an incredible companion that the guys should find a way to utilize again in the future. The EP wraps with a short two and a half minute piano outro “Shut off the Lights” which is something we haven’t yet seen from Collapse and is a welcome addition.

Postrockstar has put me in a position where I’m constantly listening to and scrutinizing new music. My time with albums is sometimes short, spanning only a week or so before I churn out a review and move forward. Sometimes if an album is truly great, it stays on my ipod, but like a child who gets a new toy, the older toys usually find their way to the shelf. I’ve admittedly said before on this site that this is a terrible way to process and listen to music, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to help keep Postrockstar moving. Keeping that in mind, you probably understand now why the albums that truly grab and keep my attention are almost always ones that make a huge first impression and/or are albums that sound like nothing else out there. Which leads to where I’m going with my final thoughts on “The Silent Cry“.

As a long time fan of the band who has listened to their discography extensively, they are becoming a bit formulaic for my tastes and this EP failed to register in terms of making that lasting impact on my ears. To the average listener who hasn’t experienced C.U.T.E, ‘The Silent Cry‘ is a top notch release that should be applauded as an extremely solid and well built EP. But to someone who was borderline obsessed with ‘Shoulders & Giants’ and equally as impressed with ‘Fragments of a Prayer‘, this release doesn’t nearly touch upon the greatness of those albums or even come anywhere close. Further the timing of this EP and I suppose ‘Fragments’ to some extent just seems strange to me. The band is prepping the second half of their two part concept album series ‘Sacrifice & Isolation‘ to be released later this year (2011’s ‘Shoulders and Giants‘ was part one). I just think that it’s asking a lot to look at the two releases between the two parts independently as they are not a of the concept series. Presently ‘Shoulders‘ and ‘Fragments‘ feel very intertwined to in my mind with ‘Silent Cry‘ serving as an off shoot of that work present on those two albums. How ‘Sacrifice & Isolation’ plays into this I have no clue and maybe it will all make sense when that album is released, but right now I feel like the conceptual series doesn’t have the same luster it would have if the two parts would have been released back to back.

To summarize all of this into a TL;DR conclusion , I like ‘The Silent Cry‘, I’m just not in love with it the same way I am with the band’s last two albums. I’m continually impressed by their ability to create music at a high level of quality, but at the same time am left feeling overwhelmed by it all as well. When compared to other EP’s released this year, ‘The Silent Cry’is a VERY GOOD album. When compared to the rest of Collapse Under the Empire‘s body of work, I can only say it’s a SOLID album and would be in the lower echelons of their discography. If you can’t play the opening notes to “Disclosure” on piano from memory and haven’t listened to all their work front and back several times through, you should really enjoy this EP. Quickly get yourself caught up with their discography because they’ll be back with a new release before you know it.