Release date: (11/05/09) Website: Buy: Amazon When an album has a name such as Align the Planets, it is a good indicator that the band that made it has large-scale aspirations. They aren’t just going to shoot for the stars or go to the moon. No, these guys are going to move all the planets into a single line, and in case you are unfamiliar with moving gas giants, this is no easy feat. The guys in question, In Case of Fire, are no exception: they’ve been compared to acts as huge and successful as Muse and Mars Volta. Though these namedrops are not entirely reliable as comparisons, a number of influences and similarities to great contemporaries are evident. Cowbell and fuzzy chord progressions in “Enemies” is reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age’s earlier hits. Galloping bass and synth lines in “Landslides” hearken back to Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia.” The first few drum thumps and guitar licks that open the album carry a heavy, melodic darkness that draws a positive comparison to Torche. This melodic heaviness, sadly, is unique to the opening track (and first single) “This Time We Stand.” That isn’t to say that the rest of the album doesn’t hit hard, merely that the opener hits the hardest. The vocals are fluid when quiet and epic in the thoroughly skyscraping chorus; even when they are muffled, they accentuate the skillfully played drums. If there are two things common to each song on the album, it’s fantastic drums and epic choruses. Lead vocalist and guitarist Steven Robinson dominates these refrains with elevated vocals and relentless power chords common to new wave post-hardcore. In “This Time We Stand,” the chorus conveys a power that is both distant and near at once, and fits perfectly into the scope of the song. However, as stated, they are one and the same in every song. The formula runs its course rather quickly, and by the middle of the album Robinson’s echoing delivery seems no more than high-pitched whining. To call the album front-loaded would be a misconception, as its second standout track (and third single) “Enemies” is seven songs deep within Align the Planets. The song is, in every sense of the words, rock and roll. One of the chunkiest bass lines I’ve ever heard gets the song rolling, while the short drum break two minutes in heralds a superbly rocking conclusion. Other notable songs include “And Sorrow,” which strangely opens with sweetly chirping bells and abruptly ends with a sharp minor chord, and the closer “Second Revelation,” which begins with an artificial drum track and ends with an industrial breakdown. Why do I not mention the rest of the songs? Well, they are just more of the same. “The Cleansing,” the second single, is a good template: energetic drums, talented vocals, and the exhaustingly omnipresent chorus. Don’t get me wrong, In Case of Fire is an excellent band, but Align the Planets is, on the whole, as repetitive as it is ambitious. Rating: 7.5/10