It’s a testament to how divisive Emmure are that the review you’ll read from me would almost certainly have read a lot differently if any of the other OneMetal staff had got their hands on it. As the appointed “beatdown whore” of the site, I was perhaps the only person that would have turned my ear favourably to Queens’ least bashful group, and the love/hate dynamic of Emmure‘s audience is one of the strongest out there.
Even I once hated the New Yorkers with a vitriol, though that all changed with last year’s Speaker Of The Dead, which shot its way into my top 5 albums of the year and flipped my perspective on the band completely. So imagine how excited you get when a band who has just rocked your world declares that they’ll be releasing an album literally 12 months after the last one hit, and you’ll get a little idea of how I approached this; a hell of a lot of anticipation, and a hint of trepidation.
Wisely, the guys decided to stick with producer Joey Sturgis, who made their previous effort sound like a punch in the face from The Hulk. Though there is a major change on Slave To The Game, in that new drummer Mark Castillo’s drums will actually be played live, as opposed to the programmed drums of SOTD.
Taking lyrical inspiration from video games (Street Fighter gets another nod in ‘Bison Diaries’) and the Marvel comics universe in ‘She Gave Her Heart To Deadpool’ and ‘Blackheart Reigns’, we see singer and lyricist Frankie Palmeri just seemingly writing about whatever he wants. Though we all know the lyrics have nothing to do with Emmure‘s success, and it’s with pleasure and jaw-dropping surprise that we find they’ve managed to get even heavier. Once you’re past the schizophrenic and chaotic ‘She Gave Her Heart To Deadpool’, you find yourself faced with the juggernaut of ‘I Am Onslaught’, whose beatdown hits with all the force of Thor’s hammer itself.
Emmure‘s many critics cite the many beatdowns as a lack of creativity, but in my opinion they couldn’t be more wrong; it’s their biggest strength. If nothing makes you want to run train on someone than that sweet half-time groove, then bow down to Emmure as your goddamn lords and saviours, because nobody does it better. ‘Umar Dumps Dormammu’ has some of the band’s best sample work yet, and I genuinely made a spontaneous one man moshpit when the minus octave pedal hit in closing track ‘A.I’.
Sadly, there is a track that lets the album down a little, in the form of the featureless ‘Bison Diaries’. It’s not bad, it just sits as kind of characterless in amongst an album of corkers. And as always, the album will have its critics, honing in on the smatterings of ‘bitch’ sprinkled in the lyrics and the fact that “BREAKDOWNS R SO EASY 2 WRIGHT, THEY SHUD PLAY SOME SWEEP SCALES”, but I honestly believe that Emmure don’t give a shit. What they’ve delivered us is another excellent album, chock full of exactly the stuff that they are the absolute kings of, which is exactly what their fans wanted, and exactly what the haters dreaded.