Celldweller – End Of An Empire Review By: MelodicEnmity
Sometimes a few words say it all. In this scenario, those words come from the cellophane sticker on Celldweller’s End Of An Empire CD itself. “Metal. Electronic. Orchestral. Drum & Bass. Neuro. Trance. Industrial. Analog. Digital. CELLDWELLER.” Listening to this record, that short description speaks miles to Klayton’s brilliance for molding sound, producing art, and his ultimate mastery of musical crafting. Putting it all out on the table, End Of An Empire is easily the most ingenuitive record of the past decade. This may put me on the chopping block, but Klayton’s ability to seamlessly blend between genres, incorporate so many different types of production and recording techniques, sing with such passion, write with such creativity, and play so many different instruments in his recordings, makes well renown masters such as Trent Reznor look like amateurs in comparison. This is not something I say lightly. You, as a listener need to understand what Klayton as Celldweller has accomplished is NO easy feat whatsoever. I cannot stress this enough, End Of An Empire is more of an achievement than mere words could describe.
First things first, End Of An Empire is a concept album, which could be very hit or miss. Concept albums have a tendency to either be so “out there” that they can alienate the listener, or so unoriginal and uninteresting that the listener ends up simply picking and choosing their favorite tracks…leaving the whole idea behind it falling flat. In this case, Klayton did his homework. End Of An Empire, is an intriguing sci-fi concept about a corporate space exploration team sent to a new, possibly dangerous planet. You, as a listener will have to listen to find out more because there will be no further spoilers from me. What I absolutely adore about this record is that it is one of the first concept albums I heard that made me feel as if I were watching a movie at first play through. The story is that clear. The concept is that interesting. The writing is that cohesive. The songs are that catchy and beautifully written. Much like any great sci-fi or psychological thriller, there is a much deeper meaning. I find myself listening to End Of An Empire on repeat because there is ALWAYS something new to hear and to discover, as if you were along for the ride with this team of explorers. The record is split up into three acts, separated by tracks entitled “Faction 01,” “Faction 06,” & “Faction 13” well-placed in order to further immerse you deeper into this world. The Factions add further depth, richness, and clarity to the overall story arch. Your imagination is key, and Klayton takes full advantage of that in all the right ways.
Now, time for me to get my pet peeve out of the way. Normally, I hate dubstep. It’s a trend that everybody seems to follow. I’ve never been a “hop on the bandwagon” type of person, as my head is still stuck somewhere in the 90’s…Yet, when I heard Celldweller use essences of dubstep in this record, I loved it. It was the first time I ever heard dubstep appropriately fit in a song. It is not overused, it is tasteful, and applied in such a way that it complements the few tracks that it is used in. In an age where dubstep is not only overused, but has crossed over into practically every genre, Klayton is really the first person to use it as just another one of the many tricks up his sleeve. To me, that is a small miracle in and of itself.
Let’s get to the good stuff, which, to me, is the fact that Klayton actually records all of his own instrumentation, both analog and digitally for his records. In End Of An Empire, Klayton brings his absolute A+ game. As a fan of all of Celldweller’s previous work, from instrumental digitally styled licensing designed music to his full length commercial albums, you can hear that he wanted to bring his talent for playing and writing on various instruments further into the limelight for End Of An Empire. Electric guitars are thick and heavy, acoustics guitars shine gorgeously, drums when appropriate sound nice and organic, and bass is jaw-dropping and thick. The beauty does not stop there as there as Klayton also takes his instruments, layers them, and warps them into entirely different sounds that I cannot say I have ever heard before. With Celldweller you get ingenuity on two levels. On one level, you have someone with the ability to create such intricate digital programming, patches, and his own new entirely unique sounds. On the other level, you have someone with the ability to record a full rock band’s worth of instrumentation and mix them organically, but also have the creativity to shape them into something entirely unlike anything anyone has ever heard before. I have nothing but praise for Celldweller and End Of An Empire.
My only criticism, if I absolutely had to, would be the fact that I feel End Of An Empire should not have been released in chapters like Celldweller’s previous record. As someone who purchased the previous chapters; I do appreciate all the bonus material that comes with them, but the album itself is so much more comprehensive and cohesive as a whole. That is simply my opinion, and since I am not judging the chapters, my only criticism has no effect on my final score whatsoever. What I would love to see would be an End Of An Era Collector’s Edition with an extra CD of bonus material (from the chapters or more) and a blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS HDMA audio mix of the album. I would buy that blu-ray in three seconds flat. If you are reading this Klayton, what do you think?
This is, in fact, my favorite album of 2015, and the most creative record to come to music since Klayton a.k.a. Celldweller’s self-titled debut in 2003. If I am willing to say that End Of An Empire makes some of industrial’s best look like amateurs in comparison, there must be something special. Not that my word is prime, but I do not say things like this lightly. I have major respect for men like Trent Reznor and all the other amazing industrial artists out there. Ultimately though, End Of An Empire needs to get out to the masses. The album releases on November 6, 2015, and whether you purchase it on Amazon, iTunes, Best Buy, or directly from the source at www.fixtstore.com – I highly suggest that you do. Celldweller’s End Of An Empire deserves my HIGHEST RECCOMENDATION. Help support true ingenuity. You will not regret it. Pre-order Celldweller’s End Of An Empire NOW!!
Replay Value: 5/5
Final Score: A+