Emmure, Slave to the Game

Emmure, <em>Slave to the Game</em>

First off, let’s not sugar-coat this: this isn’t for everybody. I guarantee that the first (and only) reaction a lot of people will experience when they hear Emmure’s Slave to the Game is going to be to twitch uncontrollably and quickly fumble for the “Stop” button, then shake their heads wonderingly at what The Kids are listening to these days.

As for me, however? Hell, I’m fucking mesmerized. Is it the brilliance of growler Frank Palmieri’s lyrics? Nah. How about the virtuousity of guitarists Jesse Ketive and Mike Mulholland? No, not really — although they do play a part in why I like this band so much. Well, is it badass drummer Mark Castillo (who replaced former drummer Mike Kaabe with this release)? Yeah, partly.

Okay, it’s also partly because I’m a child of the ’80s and a (mostly-lapsed, these days) comic book nerd and a (again, mostly-lapsed) gamer, so I get a kick out of the references to Marvel Comics characters and old-school videogames. The guys in the band may be tattooed and tough, but they obviously spent as much time in the comic book store growing up as my nerdy self did.

Honestly, though, the primary reason I like this band is because of their ability to take the tried-and-true guitar/drums/bass metal sound and essentially use all three components as percussive instruments. Sure, there are chunks of melody lurking here and there — especially on more melodic track “MDMA” — and that’s a nice added layer to the structure of the songs on Slave to the Game.

For the most part, though, Ketive, Mulholland, Castillo, and bassist Mark Davis work together to form this colossal machine, creating this heavy, downtuned, monolithic crunch that’s more rhythm than anything else. Seriously, just listen to “She Gave Her Heart To Deadpool” — the guitars here are practically atonal, with just this monumentally-detuned, bassy sound. It’s less about any kind of tone and more about using the guitars to propel the beat along, riding the wave Castillo ably creates underneath it all.

While they’re supposedly a “deathcore” band, incorporating elements of metalcore and death metal, that guitars-strictly-as-rhythm thing makes me think of them as industrial metal than anything else. There are a lot of moments here (especially in “I Am Onslaught,” with those “screechy” guitar bits) where the band seems to be pointing backwards to industrial-metal pioneers Prong, one of the first metal bands to really emphasize the groove over any kind of guitar acrobatics or melody. To my ears, at least, these guys sound like the logical progression forward from that band’s Prove You Wrong.

And hey, I’m totally, completely good with that. Emmure pulls in metal, hardcore, industrial noise, and nu-metal and produces music that sounds like it could be made by machines. It’s like music sent back in time from some Terminator-ruled future wasteland, where melody and any emotion other than pure, white-hot, bitter rage have fallen by the wayside, replaced with the sound of destruction. Like I said, this isn’t for everybody, but it’s definitely for me.

(Feature photo by Robert Scheuerman.)

[Emmure is playing 1/11/13 at Fitzgerald’s, along with Whitechapel, Unearth, Obey The Brave, & The Plot In You.]
(Victory Records -- 346 N. Justine St., Suite #504, Chicago, IL. 60607; http://www.victoryrecords.com/; Emmure -- http://www.facebook.com/emmure; Emmure (Myspace) -- http://www.myspace.com/emmure; Emmure (Merch) -- http://www.emmuremerch.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Sunday, December 30th, 2012. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Emmure, Slave to the Game

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Emmure + Kill Your Friends Club + Omotai + Harold Borup + Los Skarnales + Mikey & The Drags + More on January 30th, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    […] excellent Speaker of the Dead — which the band followed up this year with almost-as-good Slave to the Game — you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a band of Sentinel-sized robots […]

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