Awaken I Am: The Beauty In Tragedy
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Awaken I Am: The Beauty In Tragedy

Having been a fan of Awaken I Am for some time now, before listening to The Beauty In Tragedy, I knew I’d be in for an emotional ride. It only took a few minutes in for me to quickly realise this five-track EP was so much more than that. It was a soul-crushing, emotional yet beautiful tribute to their late brother and guitarist Connor Verner-Oakley, whose life was cut short by the hands of an intentional reckless driver.

Launching into ‘Kin’, the band hit the ground running with a heavy guitar riff which draws you in for a good 40 seconds before exploding into the revenge track fuelled by angry and bitter lyrics, dedicated to the person responsible for taking Connor’s life. It’s a strong introduction to the cathartic collection of tracks to follow. I found the bridge to be my favourite part of the track (along with the instrumental breakdown straight after), where vocalist Jimmy Stevenson tugs at the heartstrings singing, “What I once loved now just brings pain, and what brought pain has become my escape”, which seems to reflect on the bands need to keep Connors’ dream of music alive, despite how easy – and understandable – it would have been for them to just give up.

‘By Your Side’, a track written with Oakley, slows the pace a bit, yet packs a punch with a combination of digitally produced synth-pop sounds, strong guitars and some serious vocal control, which is unsurprising with producer Taylor Larson (The Word Alive, Asking Alexandria) on board.

‘Dissolution’ is the longest-known track on this EP (released April 30, 2018) and stands out as one of the best on the album. It’s also sadly the final recording with their late guitarist, and the first release since Stevenson joined the band on vocals. For the band, this new sound and imagery symbolised them taking a step forward, leaving the past and old ways behind upon its release.

‘Indifference’ stands as a prolific, heartwarming and cathartic song, adding another layer of emotion to the entire EP. Channelling sounds similar to Three Days Grace with a seemingly small hint of some Bring Me the Horizon influence, ‘Indifference’ features strong, soaring vocals and great instrumentals that have a steady combination of slow and fast.

There’s a painful delicateness to the closing track ‘The Stages of Grief’ as the band try to come to terms with their grief in a series of tear-jerking lyrics, “and I know they say time will heal my wounds, but I’m only feeling bitter without you”, “what I wouldn’t give for me to take his place”, “I can’t hear you but I know you’re there, giving me strength to stand”, and “for you we’ll see this through til the end”. The heartbreaking anthem is ethereal in comparison to the rest of the EP, but by no means does it lessen the emotion and power of the song’s narrative. The song has a catchy heavy beat, compliments of drummer Luke McKenzie, who enhances the emotional effect and tragedy especially in this track which is endemic of the EP’s entire mood. It’s at this point you really understand that these songs were made by Awaken I am as something to always remember Connor by, while giving them closure to move on to a new chapter as a band.

Set for release on Oakley’s birthday April 26, The Beauty In Tragedy sees Awaken I Am take their whole sound into tender, anthemic, brave new territories, and is an unquestionably rich conceptualisation of what beauty can come from tragedy.

4/5
Victory Records
Reviewed by Talia Rinaldo

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