Of Monsters and Men: ‘Empire’ Single Review

Of Monsters and Men released “Empire” in May of 2015, which was the fifth track on their album Beneath The Skin released last June. They previously released “Crystals” and “I of the Storm.” In this third and final single release prior to the album coming out, we have musical portrait of relationship painted within a lyrical intersection of land and sea. Taken together, these releases point to another amazing album from Of Monsters and Men.

It appears that they love to incorporate images of land and weather in their songs. We saw a comparison to being in the eye of a storm to being in a relationship in “I of the Storm.” In “Empire,” images of weather, sea and land flow over us as we witness the core strength of their relationship. We have nice tight playing among the band that is a bit reminiscent of Coldplay.

It strikes me a quite natural that they should turn to these images of land and sea, rivers and rain given their Icelandic root. Having briefly lived in Keflavik (about 30 miles southwest of Reykjavik, the capital), I lived near a rocky cliff of a coast and recognize the days of rain (and snow), fog, and having the rain chase us to a new hill during a picnic. It is a place deeply rooted in the landscape of geysers and bays, mountains and shivering winds. So in the midst of this windswept landscape, there is a grounding of soul: “I find comfort in the sound/And the shape of the heart/How it echoes through the chest/From under the ground/As the hills turn into holes/I fill them with gold”

So too for our relationships, they flourish even as we feel the fog overtaking us and the land close around us, we run free. We find our home in that landscape: “And from the rain/Comes a river running wild that will create/An empire for you/Illuminate.”

I love the images Of Monsters and Men evoke; the imagery of standing along a fjord nestled between hills with the spray of the sea crashing along the rocky coast and feeling enclosed and free simultaneously. The music matches nicely to the lyrics.

Putting out these tracks doesn’t just get us excited about their album, it lays down the gauntlet of high-quality music that is meaningful as well as being sonically great. We continue to see them raise the bar.