Friday, 3 April 2015

Review: Celldweller – 'End Of an Empire – Chapter 3: Dreams'

'End Of an Empire – Chapter 3: Dreams'

It's hard to believe that the Celldweller project headed by multi-instrumentalist Klayton Scott has been around for over a decade now. Though the project has only now reached album number three (not counting the three 'Soundtrack For The Voices In My Head' albums), thanks in part to the way the second album 'Wish Upon A Blackstar' was released in five separate chapters over the course of three years, with the full album released in 2012. It was a novel approach but one that ultimately created a disjointed and unfocussed release.

Surprisingly Klayton has opted for the same approach this time around for the new album 'End Of An Empire', however the space between release dates has been greatly reduced to create a much tighter and linear progression. And it is at '… Chapter 3: Dreams' that we join the story.

If the previous album had been a scatter-gun affair then this time around it shows that Klayton has learned his lesson and kept to a more unified plan. '...Dreams' continues the sound-designed approach of the previous two instalments with the instrumental 'Faction' tracks taking the majority of the airtime around two central vocal tracks. After the short noisy intro of 'Faction 07' we jump straight into the punky strains of the Orgy meets Dope Stars Inc. anthem 'Good L_ck (Yo_'re F_cked)' – an energetic and addictive slice of rocking cyberpunk that rivals any of Celldweller's classic tracks. The darker and more maudlin 'Just Like You' follows on to slow things down and even breaks out the acoustic guitar and strings to appeal to the more gothic inclined end of the audience. The chapter is rounded of by the instrumentals 'Faction 08' and 'Faction 09', which as good as they are just sound like filler compared to the strong showings of the previous two songs. They have a great glitchy industrial rock flavour and indeed sound quite cinematic, but 'Faction 08' in particular would have benefited from some kind of vocal structure to push it over the edge.

The multiple remixes are a nice touch to give you a little more for your money, and the contributions from Combichrist and Mobthrow in particular are strong. But all the clean versions and instrumental versions tacked on just come off as overkill.

As you'd expect from Klayton this is an extremely well-produced release. Each track sounds like it has been taken from the soundtrack to a big budget sci-fi film. It is atmospheric, experimental but at the same time commercially viable in its approach.

This chapter shows that the 'End Of An Empire' album is progressing nicely and may even eclipse the eponymous début album. The fact it is being released in chapters is still very frustrating as it would be great to listen to everything in one sitting and take it all in properly. However it seems as though Klayton has got this one completely under control this time and we won't have long to wait to get the final instalment.   

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