Look at Yourself - Emmure
Emmure have had a weird one as of late... Sorry, Frankie Palmeri has, should I say. 2015 saw his entire band leave, after a rather large amount of controversy that had surrounded the band for quite some time. Now new album Look at Yourself sees the group release their first record with a new lineup and new label, Sharptone Records. Personally I’ve not been a fan of the band for a while, especially with the entire negative buzz the band saw themselves enveloped in at the hands of Palmeri’s character. However, I have to say while it doesn’t compete with their earlier works, from first tastes in the form of "Flag Of The Beast" (The only single I’d heard prior to reviewing) this record has a chance of at least showing Emmure still have what it takes to compete with other bands. And after a proper listen, I can say it’s made blatantly clear throughout, Palmeri is one angry as fuck dude.
"You Asked For It", fades in slowly and peacefully, before the heavier elements ease in over the tranquility of the album’s beginning. This is until a scream of - “Get the fuck up!” - gets things moving towards the heavier side of things. The track does well to slowly build up towards what Emmure are going for with Look At Yourself, and nicely sets up for Shinjuku Masterlord. And straightaway Emmure win me over with a sound that I can’t help but think is influenced by The Holy Guile, the two have similar takes on sacrilegious lyrics amongst plenty of other topics, including speaking to “haters” through their music. “You think I give a fuck? Because I don’t” sums up the tracks lyrics well, and here we see the Holy Guile style deathcore/quazi-rap blend suit Emmure to a tee, however other parts of the record may prove this rather fleeting. New guitarist Joshua Travis brings over to Emmure his signature sound from his prior bands, especially the groove that’s blatant through the guitar on this track.
Smokey from the moment Palmeri’s vocals bring the track out of the effects laden intro shows the band aren’t breaking the mould genre wise here. But nor would they want to, a decent enough example of a pissed off deathcore track ensures that Emmure aren’t reinventing themselves to something fans won’t enjoy, and while they won’t win over many naysayers with this tactic, on their seventh album, would they ever have? One of my favourite moments on the track is the chug heavy outro that is accompanied by some dissonant guitar screeches in between each chug. With "Natural Born Killer" we see just as much venom in Palmeri’s voice and the band's sound, yet we also have a far groovier track at first, before more chugging from Travis.
"Flag of the Beast" sees a groovy centric intro, alongside the return of Palmeri’s marriage of rap and heavy vocals, and one of the better songs of the record. For me "Flag of the Beast" doesn’t fall trap to the fate some of the songs on the album do; being far too generic and becoming forgettable, decent enough songs when I pay attention, but I often find some tracks losing any of my interest. We get a fairly boring breakdown however (juxtaposed to other areas) where the track is lively and the reliance it has in parts on effects and the nu-metal effect the guitar plays on the intro/hook suit the track really well. Other than the line - “I am the fucking anti-christ” - the song doesn’t come across too purposefully edgy or angry, it perfectly displays the venom of the entire record. Plus the groove in the instrumental elements and Palmeri’s rapping is superb.
"Ice Man Confessions", is a far more nu-Metal-esque track to begin with, until the band unleash a heavy deathcore chorus. The two genres fuse well; it doesn’t come across as jagged. "Russian Aftermath Hotel" comes across in the same vein as the heavier parts in "Ice Man Confessions", and to me the sound is stale. Purposefully arrhythmic guitars and chaotic drumming underneath Palmeri’s vocals just create a wall of noise for me, and I’d label this the low point of Look At Yourself. "Call Me Ninib" doesn’t see the band fare much better at first, but a break in more rhythm in guitar parts and clean/quazi rap from Palmeri neatly gives the track a break in between heavier segments. As the song begins to close out, they begin to set up a return to the more rhythmic style seen previously on the album. However by now it feels we’ve heard everything we’re going to hear from the album, and the song just comes across stale - and that was before multiple listens. "Turtle In a Hare" follows on the same too, and it's a shame to see the band haven’t pulled off what could be an amazing album. "Turtle In a Hare" sees another lifeless song that comes across as a wall of noise again and is extremely forgettable to the extent I feel the band are a cookie cutter band, even if they have fans that brand them innovative. "Torch", sees this formula with a bit more melody over the top and syncopation in rhythm style, however I feel it has very little to offer the record.
"Derelict", couldn’t come at a better time, a similar track to the intro, "You Asked For It", glittery effects on the guitar intro shine through another groove-centric blend of chuggy guitars and Nu-Metal vocals that even echo Marilyn Manson from Palmeri. The track serves as an interlude before final track Gucci Prison kicks in. Lyrics full of Palmeri’s arrogant swagger, “You’ll never get another mother-fucker like me, another good seed from a bad cutting”. The track closes out Look At Yourself on a relatively high note. While the record closes out without breaking the mold, Palmeri et al have shown at points like this on the record they can master their sound.
For me, Look At Yourself saw a band collapse and rise (slightly) from the ashes, and while surviving what would have killed off many band’s careers, Emmure hardly come back swinging here. Sadly Emmure just aren’t the band they started out as, and this album shows it really.