Collapse Under The Empire: Shoulders & Giants

~ Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Shoulders & Giants is the first of two concept albums from the German post industrial soundscapers. Like their previous releases, this is an all instrumental album that ebbs and flows with a brooding intensity, like a metallised version of Front 242 (ask your dad), but it also means that It suffers from sounding a bit like a soundtrack from some Armageddon inspired video game.

Even if you like your music dark, you may still feel the need to glue a couple of halogen bulbs to your eye balls as this is darker than a black hole. The bleak feel of this album is part of its concept where it imparts a brutality while showing glimmers of hope. There is a sameness to all 10 tracks on here. A lift and lay effect where quiet ponderous sounds give way to a cacophony of layered textures that are at times overpowering, at times boring and at times moving.

Much of the instrumentation is repeated as in the tracks
Shoulders, The Last Reminder and Incident
which I presume is intentional and part of the concept. The thing is though, that this record sounds like an album without a vocal. The structure of the songs are such that whenever I listen to them, I can follow the vocal melody yet there is none. It is a bit like listening to The Cocteau Twins without Liz Frazer's vocals. You can take so many more risks when you make an instrumental album as by its very nature you have melodic freedom yet CUTE have played it safe from start to finish.

Based on its concept, it achieves what it sets out to do but it is at the listeners expense. This is pop music pretending to be something it is not as it would appear are CUTE. Not a bad album, just not a great one.

[][][] (3/5)