REVIEW: Alesana – ‘Confessions’

Artist: Alesana
Album: Confessions
Genre: Post Hardcore
Label: Revival Recordings

I have been listening to Alesana since high school. I’ve had their songs in my music library for nearly as long as they’ve been a band. While my music taste has changed over the years, Alesana still hold a special place in my heart. As an angsty teenager I absolutely loved their sound. As I grew up, I continued to listen to them, and found that their new songs were just as enjoyable. When The Emptiness was released, I fell in love with it and was instantly hooked. Knowing it was a concept album based off Edgar Allen Poe’s works made it even better.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the trilogy, here’s a brief breakdown: The Emptiness was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe – specifically his poem Annabel Lee. A Place Where The Sun Is Silent was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno. The final chapter, Confessions, is inspired by the series of time travel stories entitled Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle. As you would suspect, Confessions definitely touches on the idea of time travel and the repercussions of doing so.

I anxiously awaited the release of Alesana’s epic finale to their Annabel trilogy ever since they released A Place Where The Sun Is Silent back in 2011. With there being a four-year time span between that release and this latest one, it’s easy to fantasize about what the new album will sound like. Will it be raw and heavy like The Emptiness? Will it be melodic like A Place Where The Sun Is Silent? I don’t think I, nor any of their fans, could have ever predicted what a work of art the finale would actually become.

When I first listened to the album in its entirety I was underwhelmed. After years of anticipation and imagining what the finale will sound like I had high expectations that I initially felt were not met. After giving the album multiple listens though, it dawned on me how masterfully the band wrapped up the Annabel story. They utilized over-the-top theatrical antics that fans are familiar with, and delivered them with the same lyrical precision we’ve heard on previous releases. Their lyrics are what set them apart from other bands who would aspire to write music of a similar nature.

The album kicks off with some dramatic sound effects and the line “Have you ever seen yourself without a mirror?” being whispered. Then it abruptly bursts to life with Dennis Lee and Shawn Milke screaming “To slip through the cracks of the universe, my love so true, is my gift to you.” “It Was A Dark And Stormy Night,” being the first track, sets the stage for what will ultimately be the denouement of this three-album journey. It, like many of the other tracks, is incredibly melodic and has a heavy pop influence. Alesana might be a post hardcore outfit, but they are not afraid to incorporate some pop into their music. There are quite a few instances where I found myself wanting to get up and dance.

This is the band’s first release through frontman Shawn Mlike’s own record label, Revival Recordings. Because of that, this is the first time the band has had complete freedom to experiment with their creativity. They took full advantage of this opportunity, which has made this their most dynamic release to date. “Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen” is a prime example of how they stepped into unfamiliar territory and succeeded in crafting a wholly entertaining piece of work. They incorporate various sound effects, changes in tempo and even utilize different singing techniques. Unlike many of the generic post hardcore songs being released nowadays, this song is substantive and has some depth. The following track, “The Puppeteer,” is hands down my favorite song. It offers dark theatrics, hip-swinging verses and one of my favorite choruses on the entire album. It has three significant parts. The first is the opening which lays out the next chapter in the plot. The second portion of the song is the actual story. When the song sounds like it’s supposed to end, that’s when the final part begins. It’s essentially the breakdown, and features an entirely new chorus.

Seduction, adventure and darkness surround Annabel as she learns the consequences of meddling with time. Alesana make sure that each track is unique, and contributes to the overall story. They actually packed quite a bit of story into its fifty-six-minute runtime. At times it feels like they have packed too much story into the eleven tracks – as they can get pretty wordy. To fully get a grasp of what’s going on, I would recommend reading through the lyrics. With that being said though, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy getting lost in the narrative. Alesana have been together for a decade, and their experience is evident in each and every song. They have spent half of their career bringing this story to life, and it’s a story worth getting into. The band spent a lot of time putting this release together, and it’s obvious how much passion they still have for their craft.

Alesana have matured quite a bit in their years together. Their sound has evolved from album to album, and they’ve learned to harness their passion for literature to curate a sound that’s nothing like other albums coming out today. I for one sincerely hope the band continues to create concept albums, even if it takes them another decade to release them all.

SCORE: 8.5/10
Review written by Kriston McConnell

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