Emmure, Speaker of the Dead

Emmure, Speaker of the Dead

Normally, metalcore-ish stuff like this gives me a freaking headache and has me reaching for the “Stop” button after barely two tracks; there’s only so much I can take of pummeling, detuned guitars and unintelligibly bellowed vocals, y’know? With Speaker of the Dead, however, Emmure manage to beat back the impending migraine and force me to keep listening, pulling me deeper and deeper in against all odds.

It’s the band’s unstoppable, crushing, juggernaut-like rhythms that do it. Really, that rhythm is all there is here, musically speaking — if you’re looking for burning-hot leads and melodies, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. They do lurk beneath, sometimes, like the surprisingly pretty break part in “Demons With Ryu” (although even that’s melodic in the same way some Jawbox songs are melodic) or the meditative, Deftones-like heaviness of “Bohemian Grove,” but for the most part, the guys in Emmure use the guitars and vocals in the same way they do the drums and bass, to hammer out a palm-muted, crunching, stomping cadence of destruction.

The band wastes no time in setting up the assault, bursting into opener “Children of Cybertron” like the hinted-at massive robots pounding one another into the surface of the planet (what, was the band angling to get on the soundtrack for the news Transformers movie or something?). The guitars sound less like, well, guitars and more like the giant laser cannons of some starship all fired in rhythmic sequence.

The one exception to the rule is “Last Words To Rose,” a gorgeously beautiful roar that’s both delicate and gigantic at once and all the more heartbreaking for it. It points towards both Killswitch Engage and In Flames, a resemblance that makes me grin like a big, stupid idiot and like these guys even more. Plus, it serves as a nice break from the punishing sound on the first two-thirds of the album.

There’s something simultaneously sci-fi-sounding and urban going on in the band’s sound; it’s awesomely dystopian, seemingly looking at the current mind-numbing chaos and destruction going on in the world today and extrapolating that forward for a horrifying glimpse of a future far, far harsher than any cyberpunk novel you can name.

And then there’s the occasional staticky blip of electronic noise filtering through, making the whole thing come off like a half-broken transmission coming in from some base hidden deep underground. Speaker of the Dead is more honestly industrial than most of what passed for “industrial” music back in the late ’90s — it’s music made not by machines, but for machines.

Adding to the “urban” feel is the confrontational, don’t-give-a-fuck, almost Zach de la Rocha-ish hip-hop vibe floating throughout (see “4 Poisons 3 Words,” “A Voice From Below,” or “Solar Flare Homicide”). The last time I’d really listened to these guys was three albums back, with 2007 debut Goodbye to the Gallows, so I was caught a little off-guard by the new vocal style, but I’m liking it, despite my general aversion to rap-metal. Mind you, these guys’d make Fred Durst’s head explode just by looking at him sideways (and hey, can we arrange that, maybe?).

On the downside, if you were to throw on a track from Speaker of the Dead at random, I would probably have no clue which one it was, with the possible exceptions of “Bohemian Grove” — the repeated spoken bit, “What have I done? What have I done?,” makes it pretty distinctive — melodic sidestep “Last Words To Rose,” or the violently bitter “Drug Dealer Friend.”

But hell, so long as Emmure can channel that relentless beat, I don’t care. Come on, let’s bang heads some more.

(Feature photo by Adam Elmakias.)

[Emmure is playing 7/21/11 at the House of Blues, along with Alesana, Born of Osiris, blessthefall, IWRESTLEDABEARONCE, In This Moment, For Today, The Ghost Inside, After The Burial, Motionless In White, Chelsea Grin, Sleeping With Sirens, Attila, & For All Those Sleeping.]
(Victory Records -- 346 N. Justine St., 5th Floor, Chicago IL. 60607; http://www.victoryrecords.com/; Emmure -- http://www.myspace.com/emmure; Emmure (Facebook) -- http://www.facebook.com/emmure)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, July 20th, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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2 Responses to “Emmure, Speaker of the Dead

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. (Belated) Weekend: St. Patty’s at Fitz + Southern Backtones + Andrew W.K. + Dana Buoy (MP3!) + Emmure + More on March 17th, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    […] give a good goddamn about most of these bands; just not my thing. I was utterly destroyed by Emmure‘s latest, however, Speaker of the Dead, which takes the whole deathcore thing and cranks it […]

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Emmure + Kill Your Friends Club + Omotai + Harold Borup + Los Skarnales + Mikey & The Drags + More on January 11th, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    […] with frontman Frankie Palmieri‘s vocals thrown on top. At points on 2011′s excellent Speaker of the Dead — which the band followed up this year with almost-as-good Slave to the Game — you […]

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