Emmure: Speaker of the Dead – Music Review
By Eric Stuckart
I remember hearing Emmure’s first full length, Goodbye to the Gallows, and wondering which direction they would go in with their follow-up. While it definitely didn’t bring anything new to metalcore genre—which by then was waning in popularity and evolving into the trendier deathcore style—it was the type of album that saw the band at a crossroads of sorts. That early in their career, they had two very feasible directions that they could have taken.
Clearly by the sound of album number four, Speaker of the Dead, they took the direction that I had hoped they didn’t take, but you can’t blame a band for trying. Not really sure of which direction to push towards, it seems that the band took some of their more brutish deathcore leanings and steeped them in the influences and stylings of the late 90s nü metal bands. While their last release, Felony, committed even worse crimes against music, going all out towards the bounce metal leanings, Speaker still retains all too much of that flavor.
Some of the songs have riffs that would sound rather comfortable on a Korn album, such as on “Dogs Get Put Down,” and Frankie Palmeri’s singsong clean vocals bring to mind bad rap metal without a hint of irony, which doesn’t help their case whatsoever. I know that a lot of metalheads got into heavy music because of nü metal bands, but this is the first time I’ve ever really heard its influence so thoroughly penetrate a band like this.
However, if you’re brave enough to keep listening and can cut through most of the bullshit, there are a few glimmers of hope. Songs like “Demons With Ryu” (yes, it’s about the Street Fighter guy…) and “Bohemian Grove” (if you can ignore the rap singing) actually show the band working within their style to show a hint of nuanced, textured songwriting. The trouble is these few moments don’t even serve as a silver lining, because they’re practically non-existent. And songs like “Drug Dealer Friend,” with its completely batshit lyrics, and “A Voice From Below,” which is rap metal at it’s absolutely most obvious, pretty much make you forget about any of the good bits.
The other main problem is that most of the songs’ riffs are composed primarily of breakdown riffs, thus rendering most of them completely interchangeable and faceless. Even worse, some of the songs will go one step further basing the verse riff off of a breakdown riff, and hilariously slowing that riff down a half step or more for the breakdown. And nearly every song has the same riff/drumbeat pattern as well. I suppose that would make them pretty easy to mosh to though.
That’s being said, this is the type of music that is more for the pits than for anything else, and until Emmure can figure out a way to either make their nü metal influences sound less dated, or play more than just breakdowns, there really isn’t much I can say about it. I never thought I’d say it, but if I wanted to listen to Korn or Limp Bizkit, I would.
I don’t, by the way.