The music industry is full of injustices. There’s nothing to make a person’s blood boil quite like an obvious Grammy rip-off or the special attention to a particular artist that legions of young girls can bring. But the grossest injustice of all might be that Collapse Under The Empire have never been contracted to write the score for a movie. After all, that’s what the Hamburger duo makes: Expertly cinematic music that manages to combine all of the drama of a car chase scene with the intricacies of electronic- and industrial-infused post-rock.
Sacrifice & Isolation is the duo’s fifth full-length, and the sequel to 2011’s Shoulders & Giants; together they make what the band considers to be a two-part concept project. In theory, it’s difficult to apply the descriptor “concept album” to something that has no lyrics and sounds like something out of this year’s major sci-fi thriller. But that’s the band’s shtick—you can feel that there’s something tying all of this together, even if there’s not a story being told, at least not in a The Wall sort of way.
As reflected in the album’s artwork and its dedication to “all the people who lived and died for their ideals,” Sacrifice & Isolation is a very dense, heavy, and dark release. “Massif” uses the same kind of gradual, tense buildup as something by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but manages to achieve the same effect in significantly less time. With its heavy electronic influence, “Awakening” channels a sound similar to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack composed by Daft Punk. “What The Heart Craves For” finds a certain peace amongst the rubble, and leads right into “The Path,” the album’s resounding closer.
Even for people who are well accustomed to post-rock, Collapse Under The Empire can provide a fresh surprise. Like seemingly all things German, what’s here is a finely engineered, beautifully presented product that attacks the senses and ultimately leaves them satisfied.