Robots and Empire - Cast Shadows on Dragons (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Robots and Empire

Cast Shadows on Dragons (2005)


All over the country, rock radio is dying. Becoming less and less of a force on the radio waves. Clear Channel are buying up stations left and right, and subsequently, rock being a format seemingly in public approval decline, those stations are going by the wayside. Unfortunate for Robots and Empire, because that's just the sort of mold they fit so well into.

Their 4-song EP, Crawling from the Wreckage, was quite difficult to listen to all the way through, so you can imagine my displeasure when I learned they'd be releasing a full-length. Only this time around, singer Brian Conway focused much less on trying to be Daryl Palumbo (I don't care who disagrees, either, he was damn sure ripping him off on that EP) and much more on trying to emulate the vocals from bands like Failure and Quicksand. The difference being, his interpretation of that style is a decidedly nü-metal one.

The slow, sludgy riffing doesn't help matters either. I'm not speaking of slow, sludgy guitar work in the dynamic sense where a band like Isis would use it, but more in a boring, repetitive nü-metal sense that decidedly matches the vocals that come over top of it. Take "Effect Depth," a token song on this album, where such emphasis is not placed on an entertaining song structure or overall dynamic nature, but instead some awfully uninspired vocals and notes that remain un-hit.

The rest of the "band" is just as bad.

I mean, how devoid of creativity must a guitarist be to play a riff like the one written for "Car Chase." It doesn't even change! He may slide a fret or two down at some point, but save for about 30 seconds halfway through, it's a one chord pony, slowly churning along to the pace of some truly awful vocals. This is one that must be avoided at all costs.

So every time you hear about another K-ROQ station biting the dust, you can indefinitely know that it's because of mainstream versions of bands like this that, come another 10 or 20 years, you'll be able to drive from Boston to San Diego and hear nothing but Toby Keith, no matter how many times you switch the dial.