Emmure is definitely one of the more polarizing acts in metal whose reputation precedes them; you are either a “bro” with no sense of rhythm or understanding of musical complexity who really just wants to mosh and be furious with little or no justification, or you are not. The simplicity of the dichotomy really does just come to that. With Speaker of the Dead, the fitted-cap wearing band takes beating a dead horse to a level that is just painful. Throughout their discography, Emmure has managed to stick to their true sound, displaying originality and increasing technical prowess with each release (sarcasm added). Now they confirm that three bad turns deserve another, and continue beating their horse - along with anything else in range.
The saddest thing is that this review will do almost nothing to undo one of the biggest failures in metal, because Emmure fans won’t read this review. I guarantee it. Bros will continue to blare the chug-chug-chug while throwing down, and real metalheads will continue to laugh in their faces. And the band seems hopelessly doomed to stay the same; upon the addition of a new drummer and guitarist, all the creativity and influence that they could have brought to the table was ignored, and in favor of what? You guessed it – more chugging and breakdowns.
The album starts and ends in the same way, with incessant focus on frets 1 and 0. In fact, the 13 songs in between (which, dare I say is a lot of songs for a metal album) are plagued with the same disease. There are one or two interesting points, but it’s otherwise as predictable as Frankie’s whining about his ex, which is eventually heard in “Drug Dealer Friend” (“I want to watch you suck his dick/I know you f*cking love it”), done in his usual rap-scream style also heard throughout the record.
Just in case there are those who are not persuaded, let me restate that breakdowns almost ALWAYS ruin a metal album when there are too many of them, because they are not meant to carry the weight of a song, much less an entire album. It’s like making an ice cream sundae completely out of whipped cream and cherries, or pigging out from a jar of peanut butter; like food, it’s possible to devolve into a complete desensitization of sound and lose both flavor and appetite for more. On this release, the breakdowns and boring riffs make even the most bland, generic metal sound appealing, despite the revamped lineup.
It is, however, the one or two interesting points alluded to before that keep me from completely throwing this album out as a failure. There are some songs where Emmure make a good attempt at a decent sounding song. The slower track “Last Words to Rose” (not ‘slow’ in that it is characterized by slow breakdowns, either) is a nice break in the album’s tiring groove. Empty lyrics about fighting and revenge aside, some songs are religiously curious, like “Cries of Credo” and “A Voice From Below”. If nothing else, the band’s songwriting has partially moved away from the needlessly angry and into the introspective, talking about God, and about death. Joey Sturgis does yet another wonder in producing this album, delivering a crunchy and crisp sound. Compared to their previous works, this is Emmure at their best.
Beyond this, all optimistic hopes about this album stop. Some electronic nuances are thrown in throughout, which for all their smoke and mirrors just seem to be a cry of desperation for a band that, lacking the skill, had nowhere else to go. It seems that there is some kind of Transformers homage continuing as well (the opening track “Children of Cybertron” following up “Sound Wave Superior”), which really is just another annoying gimmick on the side. There are one or two interesting riffs (Tracks “Solar Flare Homicide” or “Bohemian Grove” are comparably decent), but otherwise it’s a long, dull road from start to finish, and it is hardly excusable as a good metal album with a clear message and feel.
Overall, Speaker of the Dead is an improvement from Felony, but hardly. Long-time fans will definitely see it as a return to form and won’t be disappointed, but otherwise, unless you enjoy hearing 38 minutes of dissonant chords, don’t expect anything great from Emmure this time around. And if you know anything at all about Emmure, you probably won’t anyway.
2. Area 64-66
3. Dogs Get Put Down
4. Demons With Ryu
5. Solar Flare Homicide
6. Eulogy of Giants
7. Bohemian Grove
8. 4 Poisons 3 Words
9. Cries of Credo
10. Last Words to Rose
11. A Voice From Below
12. Drug Dealer Friend
13. My Name Is Thanos
14. Lights Bring Salvation
15. Word Of Intulo
Emmure formed in 2003. The founding members, Ben and Joe Lionetti met Frank Pamerei and Jesse Ketive on the internet and began rehearsals together. Mark Davis would later join when the original Bass player had to leave as the tour schedule Ben designed was too intense. Many have compared Emmure to The Acacia Strain and From a Second Story Window.
Jesse Ketive is a former member of the band Warfix, where he played guitar alongside Bryan Goldsman of Southside Panic, Sean Murphy & Mike Kaabe formerly of Endwell.... read more