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ALBUM: Alesana – ‘Confessions’
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ALBUM: Alesana – ‘Confessions’

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In the film industry, or as an author of any sort, it is a privilege to create a trilogy. A trilogy implies the fact that the original story was so well-received that it was deserving of not 1, but 2 follow-ups. Between the 3 entries that make up a trilogy the goal is to the keep the viewer interested and also to start and finish the story on a strong note while filling it in with interesting details that tie all of the events together. A post-hardcore band named Alesana have taken it upon themselves to be the authors of one of music’s most compelling stories: The Annabel trilogy, an ongoing adventure. Ongoing until now that is.

Not ony are Alesana authors and musicians, but they also decide the fate for the ‘artist’ and his love Annabel. This trilogy began with The Emptiness, take of love, loss, descension and the death of the artist which was led by his own loss of sanity that we came to find out was all a dream. This led into the semi-inspired Dante’s Inferno-esque trek through Hell that was A Place Where The Sun Is Silent, which also turned out to be a dream. Confessions comes in and dares to ask the question: “Have you ever seen yourself without a mirror?” a reference to the fact that Annabel was only ever seen in various mirrors the artist walked past but never elsewhere. A compelling set-up for a quest through time to solve all of the unanswered questions that the Annabel trilogy has left behind over the years is indeed in store.

To speak of Alesana as musicians is to elude to the fact that they stand as one of post-hardcore’s greatest outfits. A cerebral, theatrical blend of emo alternative, death metal and pop is a collective means of describing the elements with which Alesana skillfully compose their music. Bands such as In Fear & Faith and Crown The Empire owe much to Alesana’s varied appliance of influences and massive amount of conceptual depth. And now with Confessions, which one could only describe as the band’s (self-released) magnum opus, Alesana are sure to ignite even a passing interest in plenty of musicians and listeners.

From start to finish this tale will grip. It lacks no intensity, it often creates the potential for the listener to be left in awe and the composition is superb. “It Was A Dark And Stormy Night” is a phrase that should remind any former child of the beginning of a bedtime story, but the weight with which Alesana use this phrase is much more foreboding, as it should be. The track is aptly named with its playful yet heavily-casted darkness, and a sense of scale that the rest of the album never loses.

The band members themselves have certainly honed themselves in on noticable improvement. Dennis’ screams are crisp and slightly clearer than on even the Decade EP. Shawn’s humble but emotionally high clean singing and catchy hooks have never shined quite so bright. If you’re expecting typical metalcore riffs and chugs, the guitarists might let you down due to their uniquely metallic riffs, keen sense of melody and an interesting rhythm section.

Pop sensibilities and progression are 2 ideas often raved about in modern music and though Alesana utilize both of these very well, “Confessions” is the record that has best put them to work. Often the song at hand is building up to something more and ever-changing, best evidenced in “Comedy of Errors” with its positively violent breakdown section fueled by deep growls and rage but lively choruses and verses that precede it didn’t quite hint at that coming. Because of various small but effective sonic inclusions this is a record that begs for multiple listens.

Perhaps most interesting are the song lengths. Certain tracks are over 6 minutes, a few even cresting the 7 minute mark. Fantastically, Alesana are able to engage the listener for that long without the song becoming too repetitive, but such long songs may be too much for some listeners. The band kept those listeners in mind as well though – Most of the songs on the record only last about 4 and a half minutes. Only when a track is especially key does it go on for longer than usual.

Closing track “Catharisis” reveals much about the overall plot of the Annabel trilogy (Massively satisfying plot twist in store for long-time fans!) and shows Alesana’s artistically still-beating heart. Despite the band having been around for over 10 years now “Confessions” hints at even bigger things to come. If the band are able to top this big of a record though, I may just have to write two reviews for that particular release because “Confessions” stands among the pantheon of all-time best conceptual records and begs to be exposed to both the band’s avid followers and a new generation entirely.

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Matthew Powers I write reviews for CaliberTV and enjoy the existence of music.