Some decent melodic hardcore from Russia.
Empty Your Lungs are one of the countless new bands trying to ride out this recent trend of melodic hardcore into the big leagues. Hailing from Russia, this five-piece sound no different from scene trailblazers such as Worthwhile, Hundredth, and Being As An Ocean, however, this album doesn't reach those heights.
On one hand, the band has got a lot of their musicianship down pat. The guitar work in particular is great, and it follows closely to US hardcore act, Napoleon - tight riffs and licks, with a strong emphasis on melody and cleaner tones. There's also some sick finger tapping going on in 'This Is Eternal' and a sweet solo in 'Neck Rope'.
On the other hand, the vocals are not on an equivalent standing. The vocals, which work well for the music, just have the exact same pitch the whole way through the full-length. They sound like a raspier version of Dan Brown - former We Are The Ocean screamer - if that's even possible. They wear thin pretty quickly unfortunately. However, the screams really reinforce the emotion behind some of these songs - namely on 'This Is Eternal' - but other times they ruin the song completely.
'Scared To Live' is the best example of a song that DEFINITELY should have been an instrumental and ditched the vocals. From its delayed guitar intro, to its slower rhythm and more dynamic tone - it had everything going for it. Then the vocals come in...and it just throws this quality sounding tune right to the curb and it kills all of the buzz that was just generated, ruining it completely.
The title track, which rounds out the album, is a solid instrumental song with its swirling, textured sound and great lead melodies - it's how 'Scared To Live' should have been. From the cleaner intro to the second the distorted chords come in, it's just a beautiful track, one that's accented by an unexpected synth melody.
'Back To Back' and 'Reason To Ignite' both make use of some ideal clean vocals and the small touches like the beautiful hymn-inspired backing gang vocals on 'Drowned In Arrogance' and the personalised lyrics of 'Where We Belong', the entirety of that epic final track - all help to make up for some of the album's shortcomings.
'We Are What We Are' is a surprisingly decent debut album, especially coming from an unknown Russian melodic hardcore band. While it can't match some of the genre's best, it is a good foundation to build off for future releases. It may not have a completely smooth run through, and has some glaring flaws, but it still deserves some praise. After all, Empty Your Lungs have only been together for over a year and a half. Give them some time to work out the kinks.
1. Where We Belong
2. Back to Back
4. Scared To Live
5. Reason To Ignite
6. Neck Rope
7. Drowned In Arrogance
8. This Is Eternal
9. We Are What We Are