For Glory and Empire are a four-piece band that formed in 2007. Though they still call the Fort their home, members have scattered to various parts of the U.S. to educate themselves of late. When they get a chance, however, the quartet gets together and works on music here in the great Midwest. The band already achieved some notoriety when they appeared on the Indianapolis stop of the Vans Warped Tour last year and were named the Ernie Ball/Earn It Yourself band of the month in April 2009. Now we can all hear what the fuss is about thanks to Illusions, their debut album.
With influences ranging from hardcore to melodic rock, For Glory and Empire are unique to the Fort Wayne scene, and the differences are apparent on this CD. According to their website, the album is called Illusions because illusions are “a common theme throughout the songs on the album. Illusions is a comprehensive look at the concept of how illusions affect our daily lives, how they affect our relationships with others and how they affect our selves.”
The album is divided into two parts, logically titled the “First Movement” and the “Second Movement.” The album begins with “Alive,” a cynical song that could be about how we live our lives or a scathing review of governmental policies. Or, it may not be about either subject. It’s open for interpretation, and that’s a good thing. The album then segues into “Bullet for Your Head,” leading into “Already Scared” and “The Theory of Everything,” songs that sport some great thrash riffs from guitarist Thomas Miller. Drummer Jake Howard stands out here, too, as he seemingly tries to batter his drum heads into submission on nearly every track.
While the musicianship is definitely above average, the real genius of this album are the lyrics written by vocalist Ari Oh. They go beyond the usual superficial lyrics to we have become accustomed and tackle issues head-on with scathing lines like “Take a look at what you destroyed to create paradise,” “I’ve watched as you sold yourself out / You paid a price for freedom” and “You’re a forgery of everything you ever wanted to be.”
“Helpless and Afraid,” “Vanish” and “The Lost and the Divine” shine through as standout tracks, but the whole album is full of great songs. This is a must-hear CD.
Like most self-produced local CDs, Illusions would have benefited from better production. The mix is a bit muddy and the vocals aren’t crisp, but the 10 songs on Illusions show a band ripe with potential, some of it already realized. Indeed, Illusions is one of the better local albums I have heard in years and is highly recommended listening.