Emmure – O2 Academy 2, Birmingham, 8/4/13

The Mosh Lives tour wound its way on down to Birmingham once more and a rather large bunch of noisy hardcore bands decided to make a mess in the second city. Nice. Kitteh and I took our earplugs and our tank tops/KISS leotards to our home away from home, the O2 Academy 2, and spent an evening surrounded by enthusiastic teenagers enjoying some beefy breakdowns.
Buried In Verona (2.5/5) started us off. Aussie metalcore with synths meant sexy accents but generic tunes for the most part the other night. While they were full of enthusiasm, the set wasn’t bad, but ultimately forgettable. However, with a line up ever in flux and a wildly differing back catalogue to choose from, it stands to reason that given time and a longer slot, Buried In Verona could have a lot more to offer. Canada’s Obey The Brave (4/5) didn’t skimp on the facial hair or the quality with a set to smash your face in for. Although in their current form, Obey The Brave are relative newcomers, they’re all really deathcore veterans, and Alexandre Erian and co led the Academy crowd to a sweaty and satisfied state with a series of brutal and relentless mosh-heavy anthems. Obey The Brave make no compromises and the end result is a heart pounding experience.

At first, I thought that Attila (3.5/5) were going to suck. The first two songs seemed to be more style over substance as the band paraded around the stage in perfectly chosen outfits and played formulaic songs with highly predictable basslines. But then, something magic happened. Vocalist Chris Fronzak started displaying some ridiculous range and everything began coming to life. The tone and depth of his screams in a live situation is enviable. Deeply enviable. Everything became tons of fun after that, with particular highlights in ‘Party With The Devil’. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for Chelsea Grin (2/5). While technically, everything was fine – the band were tight, competent and everything else you’d expect in the more techy end of the genre – their set was just dull. There was no change in tempo or tone throughout, and while they maintained a good rapport with the crowd, no amount of synths or snappy dress sense could save it. The second to last track displayed some promise, but went on for too long and the set as a whole just fell flat.

Ah, but nobody was really there to see any of them anyway. Emmure (4.5/5), the Queens deathcore titans, were at their finest. Frankie Palmeri is equally charming and vicious – one moment, he’s thanking the fans and reminding them to keep safe and in the next, he’s launching into a violent tirade with ‘Solar Flare Homicide’. The band as a whole fit the hardcore dynamic to a tee but with an enthusiasm and power that’s slowly dying out in the genre; at first, they’re imposing, but ultimately ready to mosh as hard as the kids in the pit. As tempting as it is to dive into the pit, it’s also just worth standing back and watching as Emmure do their thing; they’re completely arresting. The set consisted of all the classics, and not as much material from their latest effort, Slave To The Game, as I would have expected; but that left room for all the best stuff from Speaker Of The Dead and Felony anyway. Opening the set with ‘4 Poisons 3 Words’ left Kitteh positively shaking with joy. Believe me when I say, the mosh definitely lives, and definitely will continue to if left in the hands of Emmure.

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!

Live: Never Say Die! 2010 – O2 Academy Birmingham, 31/10/10

The minute I stepped through the door, I thought ‘I shouldn’t be here’. It was Halloween, Kitteh and I thought that we should do something because neither of us could do our usual respective Halloween activities and we chanced upon Parkway Drive and Comeback Kid touring together. “You wanna do it?” “Hell yeah I wanna do it!” and the tickets were booked. But stepping through the doors, into a barrage of scene mullets, fat girls with too much eyeliner and brightly coloured band t-shirts (seriously, what happened to black?), was almost too much to handle. I guess I forgot that hardcore is a bit ridiculous these days.

At the merch stand, Kitteh got major props from Bleeding Through’s super awesome keyboardist Marta (“That necklace is soooo cool, where did you get it?!” “To be honest, Claire’s… the Halloween stuff is surprisingly good.” “No way!!”), I picked up a bitchin’ Comeback Kid shirt and we kicked back, relaxed, paid far too much for a VK and a coke and waited for the next band to come on, having already missed We Came As Romans, who I’m sure were very good as they had dinosaurs on their t-shirts. Your Demise, who to my surprise were British, came on and we ventured on in. Despite being just the second band on, they had a lot of support from the audience who two-stepped and floor-punched their way into a frenzy. Your Demise are great hardcore – absolutely full of energy with enough melody to actually make a song while still being heavy as fuck. They’re not too serious, but it was clear that there was a lot more depth than just ‘mosh mosh mosh’ in their sound. War From A Harlot’s Mouth were up next, but they didn’t leave a lasting impression. They were vaguely akin to Caliban, so in other words, heavy German metalcore. You get the picture.

Emmure, however, were something incredible. Glorious deathcore hailing from various parts of the US, they shocked and awed the crowd with an amazing performance. Vocalist Frankie Palmeri has a voice that sounds like a bowel movement in his throat – deep, distressing and potentially cathartic. Emmure are an insanely intense band; every song is like a direct assault. There’s no bullshit either; the band’s there to play, not chat to the teenies on the front row. I wasn’t in the mosh, but I believed it to be brutal, much like the sound coming out of the speakers. It’s impressive stuff, so definitely check them out if they’re over again.

Bleeding Through are a band that Kitteh and I have been waiting to see for a while. And oh man, they were definitely the heaviest band of the night. Marta is just so impressive to behold – the headbanging whilst rocking the keyboards was so intense she probably got some kind of concussion. The songs from the latest release sound amazing and the band were on top form. They’re so typically American though – Brandon says thank you after every song, everything’s posi until they tell us they’re enemies of everything and I dunno, it gave the set a bit of a weird feel. However, it’s forgivable because Brandon is ridiculously beef. So so beef.

Comeback Kid are also in the same boat – they’re a band I’ve been wanting to see for absolutely ages. And they delivered, holy shit they delivered. They also played a lot from their latest release and the new songs sound great; that perfect mix of crushing yet melodic hardcore that Comeback Kid are renowned for. I got a bit too excited when they played Broadcasting. The sound wasn’t as good for Comeback Kid as it should have been – the levels were a bit off, but nevertheless, it was an exciting set. While they may not be quite as fun to watch as bands like Your Demise and headliners Parkway Drive (who to be fair, are just mental), they’re certainly captivating. Not the best set of the evening but pretty damn close.

The best set of the evening, truly, must be reserved for Parkway Drive. It may have been their first time in Birmingham, but they owned the venue entirely. The set was divided into two halves – they played songs from Deep Blue, the new album first, and then a mix from Horizons and Killing With A Smile. When I say two halves, I literally mean that – a quick break in the set to change the back drop, put out some palm trees and to try and make it feel a bit more like Byron Bay. Dinghies and beach balls all inclusive too. The sound was sorted out entirely and every note in Winston’s growl was audible all the way to the back. Parkway Drive are excellent showmen – there was a mini circle pit on stage, they got the crowd going insane over an Australian football and you felt like you were part of something grander. The inclusion of older songs in the set was pretty impressive, especially Romance Is Dead and Guns For Show, Knives For A Pro, which sounded amazing. As a devotee to Killing With A Smile, I was happy. When I say I’ve never seen anything quite like it, that’s not hyperbole, that’s fact – Parkway Drive are just insane live, and insanely good at that. The new giants of hardcore are here.