Don’t get me wrong, there is bliss in background music. Sometimes, you just want to sit back and think but you don’t want to do it in silence. But even the best background music can get dull at times (that’s why you leave it to the background) and unfortunately, Bells fall in to that dull category.
When I listen to an album, I look for growth and progression. Where does the album start and where does it finish? I want the album to take me on a voyage; a quest through a world of guitars and lyrics. Bells’ Our Forest, Our Empire didn’t take me on said quest.
The album begins with “Fall,” a lyricless composition stars a distorted, echoing guitar and not much else. The rhythm is nice, but not for three minutes. “Always Invisible,” which comes next, is similar. No words, just quaint and quiet instrumentals. Both “Fall” and “Always Invisible” lack any real build or climb. When the ends of the two songs come, it’s okay. “Daisy” is a bit better, with a catchier beat and distorted vocals, both of which add some depth. Even with the additions, though, it still lacks pizazz.
Going into Our Forest, Our Empire, I was really excited. Experimental, instrumental rock with two guys that used to be in metal bands (frontman Jon Hershey was in August Burns Red and Sean Hennessey used to be in This or the Apocalypse). But for some reason, the album fizzles. Maybe it’s just too much of an interesting idea. Maybe it just didn’t work right this time, and the next Bells album will be spectacular. Either way though, this one just doesn’t work.
If you were to describe Our Forest, Our Empire, it would sound relaxing. Soothing songs without loud drums or screeching vocals. You would expect the album to be a nice break from some of the overproduced noise that we hear every day. But there’s a fine line between being relaxing and putting you to sleep, and unfortunately, Bells seems to be better at the latter.