Album Review – Celldweller – End of an Empire (2015)

Availability: YouTube, FiXT Store, Spotify, iTunes

www.celldweller.com
www.fixstore.com/collections/scandroid
www.facebook.com/circleofdustofficial

After two years, the full album of Scott Albert’s (Klayton, Celldweller) chaptered series End of an Empire was unveiled on the 8th November 2015. Within the album, the reemergence of his side-project Scandroid with former co-founder, electronic artist Varien (2013 – 2014) who exited from the project last year, featured on an exclusive new track Breakout, as well as contributed to a remix.

Joining the reestablished project, was Klayton’s former Christian metal/industrial band, Circle of Dust – of whom he co-founded with industrial artist, Klank (1988 – 1998); now an official second side project. Under his old identity, Circle of Dust remixed another of the album’s exclusive tracks Jericho.  Within an ‘Ask Celldweller’ video uploaded the same month a few days after the album’s release, Klayton explained that he managed to get full copyright from the band’s old labels (R.E.X and Flying Tart), and was from then on to be able to remaster the whole discography, and that not only will the full discography resurface next year, but there are also two new songs underway.

In many respects, you could say that End of an Empire is a sister/alternate reality/counterpart to his previous project, Wish upon a Blackstar, which from two thousand and nine to this year has gone through many phases. There were extended plays in the form of chapters, a full album, instrumental albums and then the final evolution of a complete novel, graphic novel, art book and original score. The chosen genre, and subject matters are very similar and parallel one another; the visitation of an extraterrestrial race, the interaction and exploration of human nature, futurism, and transhumanism. His new album however is much more in tuned with the dilemma of morality and immortality, and has a more spiritual identity.

It’s this extra element that gives Klayton’s newest installment of his career a very raw edge, an evident vulnerability that has been distributed carefully under very clean deliveries of instrumentation. It reflects back on his very first moments of his solo career, as Celldweller which he formed in 2003, and released his debut album under the same name.  The debut, in comparison to his later work, is much cut and throat, disturbed in its composition, which instrumentality demonstrated the struggles that Scott Albert was experiencing at the time, and since then, has musically gained a lot of confidence in his craft.

Wish Upon a Blackstar was indeed lighter in comparison to his debut, and there was a narrative/conceptual like format, because he wanted to tell a story, and distance himself from using real life as his template. End of an Empire on the other hand, blends beautifully in between the two.  Albert is demonstrating he has become comfortable in being able to introduce aspects of his own self, more so than before, and has incorporated past selves into the mix, as this new album illustrates a lot of his own personal beliefs into one format. The concept of an ultimate ending and afterlife (End of an Empire, Elysium, Precious One, Faction 10), the existence of extraterrestrial life (Faction 6, Faction 9), space and time travel (Faction 1, Lost in Time). On top of this, is a simplistic exploration of what makes us human, it explores emotion/desires (Heart, Just Like You, Breakout), and our flaws (Down to Earth, Jericho Good Luck – You’re Fucked).

The intriguing aspect to this album is that unlike before, Klayton (Scott Albert/Celldweller) has now introduced two facades into the production. Those two personas have a completely different sound to his current self; Scandroid was a project inspired by the 1980s genres of new wave, electro house and infused it into a futuristic sound. Circle of Dust was and is industrial metal in its earliest forms, and a catalyst for the earliest inspirations of religious themed rock and metal bands. Celldweller is of course industrial, but also can be known as EBM, electronic rock. Combine all this elements and you have an extraordinary concoction, and Celldweller executes this with professional skill. To complete it, you also have a wonderful twist to the story. That the narrative was all a game, a universe within a universe (G4M3 0V3R), and within the deluxe edition of the album, there are M4A bit versions of all the unremixed tracks on the album.

 

Lauren Richards

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