While not by any means pop-punk, Raleigh, North Carolina “sweetcore” band Alesana is no stranger to the 2000s emo scene. I only recently discovered this band less than two years ago after stumbling across their song ”Seduction.” I liked lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Shawn Milke’s voice; but what stood out the most was the band’s unique blend of clean and unclean vocals. “Alternative” vocalist Dennis Lee’s screaming vocals beat today’s popular post-hardcore vocalists by a landslide. Not to mention, Alesana are great storytellers with their lyrics; they even composed an entire trilogy of records, collectively known as “The Annabel Trilogy.” I personally love their entire discography, and if you are interested in giving them a listen, here are five of my favorite Alesana songs that you need to check out.
If you aren’t familiar with Alesana’s discography, The Emptiness is the first installment of The Annabel Trilogy. The concept album revolves around the character known as The Artist, who wakes up one morning to find his lover, Annabel, dead. The story follows The Artist as he seeks to avenge his lover’s death, and the first installment of the trilogy closes with the seven minute track, “Annabel.” What’s interesting is that we seem to have the belief that short, fast songs are the easiest to keep a listener’s attention. But the thing is that Alesana is no stranger to “longer” songs, and because you’ll see a second seven-minute song making this list, the band can sure pull it off.
“How could I be so blind? I guess I fell in love too quickly… but I’m fine.”
4. “This Conversation is Over”
This track is my favorite off their debut On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax and I was so stoked that I got to hear it live during their tour in honor of the album’s 10-year anniversary. I’m not sure whether it’s the fact that the vocals immediately jump out the second the song starts, or the fast-paced tempo throughout the entire song, but “This Conversation is Over” even has the catchiness of a classic pop-punk song. Not to mention the typical lyrical theme of being abandoned by someone you care about and being left with nothing more than a memory lost in time.
“Please try to say more carefully that you no longer need me. This back and forth is killing me.”
“Seduction” was the first Alesana song I ever heard and it was Shawn Milke’s vocals that really stood out to me. Definitely your typical emo break-up song, this track incorporates the perfect balance between the clean vocals of the chorus and the heavier backing vocals. Not to mention, the acoustic instrumentals at the very end of the song are what give the finishing touch.
“Cries escape your sweet voice as I kiss you one last time.”
Similar to the track “Annabel,” this seven-minute track acts as the closer and finale of not only the album Confessions, but brings the entire Annabel Trilogy in full circle. The term itself can be defined as “the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.” “Catharsis” is similar to “Annabel” in the way that it mixes things up to make it sound like almost two different songs, but it is also a lot heavier. Nevertheless, it is the overall lyrics that genuinely make this song stand out so much to me.
“I remember when, my love, you could stop time with just a smile.”
1. “The Thespian”
Arguably the band’s most popular song, “The Thespian” is the track that blew me away and brought me into the world of Alesana. The song grabs the listener’s attention with an immediate in-your-face, loud, screaming vocal, soon followed by a fun, upbeat chorus that makes you want to run around and drive in circles. The song slows down for an eerie bridge and a heavier outro and then finally, an everlasting closing.
“Tell me I’m forgiven, say you’ll always be mine. Say that everything is over, tell me I’m fine.”
Honorable Mentions: “All Night Dance Parties in the Underground Palace,” “Tilting the Hourglass,” “Comedy of Errors,” “Apology”