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Awaken The Empire: Natural Causes

Ambitious alt-rock where style outranks substance

Has there ever been a more meaningless genre tag than ‘alternative rock’?

Awaken The Empire probably wouldn’t agree, but it’s hard to work out exactly what Aurora’s over-produced contents are an alternative to.

This is well-trodden territory, where furrowed brows, navel-gazing and arena-sized anthemic refrains collide, and the songs are so laden with clichés that the intended hugeness of the sound comes across as disproportionately grandiose and even a little silly. Brief flashes of invention appear from time to time – a flurry of skittering electronics here, a Devin-esque wall of guitars there – but singer Damien Lawson’s earnest, overwrought delivery smacks of the superficial bluster that so often substitutes for real poignancy in rock’s mainstream. A Tribute To Rome, with its post-NIN beats and symphonic touches, is sterile nonsense that will doubtless thrill Linkin Park fans and Cruel World sounds like a less cringeworthy 30 Seconds To Mars. If you want any degree of edge or originality in your rock music, Aurora is a giant blast of hot air.