Shoulders & Giants is the newest release from German duo Collapse Under the Empire, which dropped Oct. 21 courtesy of Sister Jack Records. The members contribute electronics, guitars and drums, making each song feel like a full band is participating in the airy yet engaging atmosphere.
Collapse Under the Empire employs a fairly diverse yet wholly tame sound. Upon first listen, the mix of electronics, guitar and keyboard is soothing; however, as the album progresses it is easy to hear the inability of the group to take risks with their sound. The songwriting is similarly flawed as most of the pieces devolve into slow paced washes of tremolo — segments that can only be described as hit or miss. It’s not that Shoulder & Giants is unpleasant to listen to, but after a few songs the riffs sort of blend together without too much fanfare.
The first few songs off Shoulders & Giants establish the band’s approach to each song which is more or less the same in structure and arrangement. Electronic percussion flows into keyboard and delayed guitar as each instrument moves toward a repetitive, pounding center. Halfway through the record, “The Sky Is The Limit” showcases one of the more effective crescendos, giving the piano a more prominent role. The succeeding tracks are probably a bit more memorable than the first half of the album, but not by a lot. Here the drums and electronics make an attempt to expand the palette of sound with a slightly faster and denser sound. “After The Thaw” is the most compelling track of the 10 and shows a somewhat progressive edge. The last track, “A Riot of Emotion,” is an attempt at a bombastic ending for the album but plods along until an uninspired finale.
What Shoulders & Giants offers is a pleasant sounding, no risk brand of post-rock. The production is spot on, as are the performances from each member. Each track is somewhat impressive, but as a whole, the band can’t branch out in any meaningful way. With some work on song structure and more experiments into different sounds, this band could be a strong force. Be that as it may, Shoulders & Giants is a disappointing collection of songs that never really resolves itself.