Album Review: Awaken I Am - 'Shields & Crowns'

25 March 2015 | 11:12 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Standing out from the heavy crowd.

Metal bands in Australia seem to be racing to see who can push the boundaries of heavy breakdowns and breakneck solos. Rock bands aren’t doing much better in the way of originality either. Awaken I Am’s debut album 'Shields and Crowns' runs in the opposite direction, with the band preferring to emphasise clean vocals and synths rather than outright brutality.

Sounding like they’d fit perfectly alongside Woe Is Me, We Came As Romans and Sleeping With Sirens, the Brisbane quintet are performing music that for some reason doesn’t come out of Australia often (if at all). One of the standout tracks 'Landslide' is a perfect example of how the band is differentiating themselves from their local counterparts. The lyrics “I never thought, that this could be” doesn’t necessarily scream ‘catchy’, but it has the perfect rhythm to get stuck in the head. Their vocalist may sound a lot like Kellin Quinn at times, but it’s obvious that he’s insanely talented and it shows in every single track. Similarly, the band refrains from using screamed vocals (excepting a large part in Shields), which actually helps rather than hinders the release.

Often times debut releases feel like they’ve run out of ideas by the end, but Awaken I Am actually pull out their strongest efforts during the close of Shields and Crowns. Exposure’s background vocals recall the wailing style of the Mars Volta, and Capture’s wide landscape featuring choir-like singers can only be described as epic. Seriously, try not to sit in awe when Capture culminates with multiple tiny little details that add up to the album highlight.

It’s obvious that members of Awaken I Am have cut their teeth in previous bands. The quality of Shields and Crowns from the production to individual and evident skill is consistently high. A stunning release from a band that deserves to be catapulted into the spotlight.

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  1. Divisions
  2. The Depths
  3. The Onlookers
  4. Landslide
  5. Shields
  6. Safe Haven
  7. Channeling
  8. Vices
  9. Seek Solace
  10. Exposure
  11. Capture
  12. Chapters