Review: Emmure – Speaker Of The Dead



‘Brutal and tubby. The triumphant return of Frankie Palmeri and Emmure’

Dear readers, I have a confession to make. I’m in love with a chubby, hairy man who doesn’t even know my name. I hang on every word he says, but stand in silence. I stare at him adoringly, but he looks away.

Okay, it’s no great romance, so let me lay it down. I fucking love Frankie Palmeri. Seeing him live turned my loins to mush, and with the release of ‘Speaker of the Dead’, my womb pretty much exploded as soon as I pressed ‘play’.

While many Emmure fans have been mourning the change in subject matter with ‘Speaker of the Dead’ (sorry guys – it’s hard to find any graphic rants at ex-girlfriends on this release!… well, maybe just the one…), nothing has been sacrificed in order to achieve this album’s new polished sound. And considering how loathsome some areas of modern deathcore have become, Emmure have done particularly well to retain their fanbase without straying into Bring Me The Horizon-style ‘Marmite’ territory i.e. There soon becomes two options: you either love them, their faces, their music and wish to erotically sidle up to their tunes in a dusky nightclub, OR, you’d rather nail your own scrotum to an anvil and throw yourself off a cliff, sooner than listen to them play a single note. While there will always be a fresh wave of hate for such ‘-core’ genres, Emmure have done particularly well to bridge the gap between ‘exciting new deathcore’ and ‘respected band’, and are fast becoming forerunners of the genre.

‘Speaker of the Dead’, although not Shakespearian in its lyrical content, or ground-breaking in its musical structure, is a bloody brilliant album that is sure to keep my stereo on its toes for the rest of 2011. Before you transpose any preconceptions on to the release, I urge you to take into consideration that this is a real case of not judging a book by its cover. While Emmure deliver that which is expected by their fans, it is their distinctive take on structural features that sets ‘Speaker of the Dead’ aside from other similar releases. Emmure’s tracks are still filled with breakdowns aplenty and enough guttural growls to wake Cthulhu from his slumber, but the band seem to have undergone an evolution of sorts- opening up their musical avenues to incorporate new musical movements and features. Many of the tracks on ‘Speaker of the Dead’ feature new electronic elements, and while the breakdowns are as heavy as ever, many instances feature a distinct dubstep influence which (surprisingly) adds to the overall heaviness and severity of the album.
While ‘Speaker of the Dead’ displays a clear musical evolution from 2009’s ‘Felony’, and it certainly has become my preferred Emmure album, the release is by no means flawless. While fifteen tracks may seem to be great value for money, more than a few of them could be seen as surplus to requirements – many are simply filler. That’s not to say that one can’t enjoy filler, but not every track on ‘Speaker of the Dead’ is a winner. Considering the longest track lasts 3minutes 50 (Solar Flare Homicide) and the shortest a mere 1:15 (Words of Intulo), if you don’t like one song, it’s not long before another one comes along to grab you.

Despite there being too many tracks and not enough time, there are some real stand-out works on Emmure’s release that are really worth a listen or two. ‘Area 64-66’ is a gritty, hazy slab of deathcore goodness and ‘4 Poisons 3 Words’ is a masterclass in how to make rap vocals really work in heavy genres. ‘Speaker of the Dead’ is very much Frankie’s record, with his vocals receiving the most attention and variety throughout the tracks. I wouldn’t go as far as to say he ‘carries’ the group, but he’s certainly their unique selling point. ‘A Voice from Below’ features some of the meatiest vocal lines I’ve heard in a long time, and although painfully clichéd (thanks to the repetition of ‘We’re all gonna fucking die’), ‘Words of Intulo’ sounds like it has been shat from the bowels of hell itself.

Personally, I have found there to be three stand-out tracks on the release, songs so immense and beefy that they shake your bones with each listen. ‘Demons With Ryu’ is the audible equivalent of a twelve car pile-up at a monster truck show. Or, if you don’t fancy my car-based imagery, ‘Demons With Ryu’ is fucking awesome. With a great structure, technical brilliance and dynamic changes strong enough to shift continents, it’s hard not to fall in love with this release. ‘Solar Flare Homicide’ is Emmure’s first single from ‘Speaker of the Dead’, and (thanks to the internet and the like) is accompanied by a neat little video of the guys going apeshit in a warehouse of some form. It’s consistently heavy, and builds to an enormous eye-bleedingly anthemic chorus. It’s understandable why it was chosen as their first release from the new album – with each listen, a new musical feature jumps out at you and you can spend all day picking up nuances. My iTunes play count pretty much sums it up: 34 and counting. ‘Last Words to Rose’ is definitely the wildcard track of the release that proves that *gulp* deathcore can be sensitive. Instrumentally, the song stands head and shoulders above the rest, with a soaring guitar line that could tear the roof off the studio. It is only Frankie’s distinctive vocals that pin the track down back into the Emmure canon. Like most other Emmure songs, the lyrics for the entirety of the song can be written on the back of a cigarette paper. Yet surprisingly, this time round, it doesn’t detract from the complex and delicate nature of the piece.
Overall, ‘Speaker of the Dead’ is an album of light and shade, with enough variety to keep you occupied for many, many months to come. Although not every song is a blinder, there certainly aren’t any duds, and tracks like ‘Solar Flare…’ soon help you put aside any negative thoughts towards the release as a whole. In short, whether you’re new to the genre or a seasoned Emmure fan, it is well worth splashing your cash to pick up a copy of ‘Speaker of the Dead. Me and my quivering loins say you won’t regret it.

4 out of 5 high fives!

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