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Album Review: Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders by AWOLNATION

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AWOLNATION is a rock band from California. While they don't have a genre-defining sound, they have influences from rock, electronic, hip hop, and more. While they haven't had as much success since Sail (Megalithic Symphony) or Run (Run), Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders mark their fourth studio album. 

The first track off the album is The Best. It starts out with a running guitar part. One of the main melodies of the track is the reverbed synth notes. According to the lead singer himself, Aaron Bruno, the track is actually a sad song. Throughout the track, he talks about how he wants to be the best and it talks about the perfection mentality that a lot of people have. Perfectionism can actually put a lot of stress on yourself and put some negative thoughts into your mind.

The second track is Slam (Angel Miners) and is also the longest track on the album; it's just a little under five minutes in length.  It starts out slow with some percussion and bell instruments and slowly adds more instruments, like a synth and an electric bass. After about a minute through the track, everything cuts out and you hear a blaring electric beat come in. The whole tone and energy of the track change suddenly, which isn't a new concept for the band. There's another note from the lead singer talking about how this song is the "soul of the record." He talks about his daily dialogue of good versus evil.

After that, we come to Mayday!!! Fiesta Fever. This track is a little more energetic in taste, especially with the vocals. AWOLNATION wanted a genre-less track on this album since most of their music varies from track to track. This track tries to attract the elements of disco, as well as some punk rock elements, which can be seen closer to the end of the track.

Next, we come to Lightning Riders, which could be considered as the second title track to the album. The falsetto voice at the beginning definitely stands out. Honestly, I don't think it meshes well with the track and it just sounds cheesy. Not really digging the vibe of this track.

California Halo Blue is another electronic and rock-infused track. The voices of the chorus during the chorus section are a nice addition to the track. On this track, he talks about the California fires that usually break out every few years. His recording studio was destroyed in a fire, but luckily his house was not damaged by the fires.

Radical opens up with the lead artist screaming the word "radical." The voice is almost similar to that of Freddie Mercury's. After the opening, the track does tune it down a bit. According to the lead singer, it's more of a sarcastic track and not being a part of a certain ideological belief. He said it's also a sarcastic party anthem. Towards the end of the track, you have a blaring guitar part to end it off.

Battered, Black & Blue (Hole In My Heart) starts off with a hard-hitting guitar with a little more aggressive than normal vocals. During the chorus, he tones it down a little with a soft, falsetto voice. On this track, the singer looks at himself from a distance and realizes how broken he used to be. He's coming to accept how he used to feel in the past. As the track goes on, it gets lighter and more accepting.

One of my favorites off the album, Pacific Coast Highway In The Movies, features the lead singer of Weezer, Rivers Cuomo. I really wish we had more of him on this track, but unfortunately, he only gets a verse and a shared chorus. Also, the lead singer of AWOLNATION has been a fan of Weezer for a while, so I guess it's more of a dream come true for him.

After that, we come to another hard-hitting track titled Half Italian. You have a few hard-hitting guitar chords, then it lays off a little bit with a piano part. This track talks about how you are who you are based on where and who you were born from. A lot of things that make you unique are set from the day you are born.

The last track we have is I'm A Wreck. For the last track, he tones it down a little bit, but the track builds up the instrumentation throughout. It starts out with just the lead singer and his guitar. After the small interlude, it breaks into a wall of violins playing quickly, and the tone changes quickly. According to the lead singer, this is the final fight between the angel miners and the lightning riders. The end almost sounds like a metal track with the instrumentation and the singer being more aggressive than normal.

Honestly, this whole album seems like a mix of different tracks. In my opinion, it doesn't have a clear path of what it wants to sound like. There are few good tracks on here, but this seems more like a playlist of different tracks with no direction.
Overall Rating: 5/10
Favorite Tracks: The Best, Pacific Coast Highway In The Movies

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