Sunday, 22 April 2012

Review: Emmure - Slave to the Game

 Due to having a lot of friends at my school who have a strong love for any kind of music that one could describe as "br00tal", I have come across the works of Emmure prior to this. To say I enjoyed it would be like saying I have the most intriguing time when listening to The Fray. Who? I've found Emmure to be the type of band that specializes in mixing moshing wit mindlessness; breakdowns with brainless lyrics. Basically the kind of band that wants to make music to be used specifically for video game killing sprees. Essentially, if you enjoy subtlety and sophistication in your music, stay a million miles away.

 So, let's keep that whole video game ideal intact when considering their fifth release Slave to the Game which is made entirely with a video game theme surrounding it. It's clearly a sign of Emmure playing to their strengths and not progressing in any way. And so listeners find themselves once again with an album that is essentially a collection of constant breakdowns. Breakdowns within breakdowns even. To be fair, this is a sign of Emmure playing to their strengths because a lot of the breakdowns are actually quite good. Songs like Protoman and Bison Diaries have quite a pulsing nature as riffs slam into action. War Begins With You even features the kind of breakdowns that give Emmure the image of a poor man's Bury Your Dead, a step up by any means.
 But not even Emmure can rely on breakdowns to make an album worthwhile. While all the ingredients for a dynamic and interesting metal album are there; monolithic slabs of riffage, an engaging selection of background and even foreground electronics and a clear sense of passion writhing inside of frontman Frankie Palmeri, the band have once again failed to use it to the best of their ability and instead create a range of songs most effective for virtual slaughters and endless moshpit endurance. And at times, particularly on the likes of I Am Onslaught and Cross Over Attack, this just doesn't stand up and the music drags on, even getting lost in the floundering walls of distorted and electronic pounding with the output of little substance.
 I'd like to think of other ways they could improve what they do but it would mean they'd have to cut their main musical gimmick, the biggest turn-off about the band. When I first saw the video for the group's 2011 hit Solar Flare Homicide on YouTube, the top comment stated that Palmeri was "The Fred Durst of deathcore." Sadly the comment makes so much sense. And the vocal pattern that features throughout Slave to the Game is at times laughable due to the frequency of Palmeri's faux-gangsta-rap vocals unleashed, followed by an attempt to sound more aggressive by using death growls. It's not a feature that works in any circumstance and it diverts Emmure from being taken seriously.
 While we've seen metalcore bands do great things with heavy riffs and electronics in the past, (There is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It, There is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret will probably become a modern classic despite it divided opinion that lies over it and it's creators.) Emmure have effectively managed to use this combination as a means of regression on Slave to the Game. It would be cool to see some kind of major step-up in their style, but it's been five albums and things have only become less mature. Sometimes, you need to be more than just "br00tal" to actually be impressive.

 Emmure's Slave tot he Game is out now via Victory Records. The band will play at Download Festival at Donnigton Park, Derby on 10th June and Ghostfest 2012 at Leeds University Union on 1st July.

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