REVIEW: EMMURE – “Look At Yourself”
‘Look At Yourself’, it can be argued, is an album that shouldn’t even exist. Many other bands have gone through a slew of lineup changes and folded like a house of cards long before reaching a studio in order to prove that it’s just a flesh wound. Hell, look what happened to Chimaira – after replacing a number of original members, those same replacements upped and bailed, leaving Mark Hunter to call time on the band. So it’s testament to the resilience, steel and determination of Emmure vocalist Frankie Palmeri that the band remains alive and well, with an album to herald their survival.
Contrasting with what one can imagine the intended context is, sophomore bruiser “Shinjuku Masterlord” posseses a choral refrain of “Do you think I give a fuck?/Because I don’t!” which belies Palmeri’s position somewhat. Clearly, he is a man that does care and, indeed, cares about his band as well as his music. Were he apathetic to his plight last year, the metal world would be chalking up Emmure upon its list of fallen bands. It’s this “me-against-the-world” attitude that forms the cornerstone of ‘Look At Yourself ‘.
Make no mistake; this is one angry record. There is a palpable level of discord, hatred and bile contained within these thirty-minutes. Instrumentally, new chaps Josh Travis, Phil Lockett and Josh Miller bring the fire with rhythmic slams and chunky, beef-cake chugs alongside a side of early KoRn playground squeaks and dissonance; but Palmeri’s got the bit between his teeth. Every scream, growl, rap and spoken part is laced with enough toxicity to take down a large bear, and enough aggression to make you want to trash a room. Sounds great, right?
Pure aggression is all very well and good, but even the most ardent listener will need a respite at some point. Technically, the polyrhythmic, angular riffs are all wonderfully brutal, but it loses its impact when there’s very little else to compare it to. The KoRn-esque dissonant clean parts are where the riffs really feel like a body-check (see “Ice Man Confessions” and “Torch”), but elsewhere these begin to feel homogeneous. To the hardcore-dancing fan in the pit, this will sound like music to their ears (pardon the pun), but it leaves very little to take away to memory. Having said that, the aforementioned “Shinjuku Masterlord”, for its defiant choral refrain, will stick with you. As will album highlight “Turtle In A Hare”, with its Emmure-staple aggression and droning, clean(ish)-sung chorus – it’s this little twist, this minute addition that sets it apart from the rest of the album. Expect it to find a little nook in the brain to bore into.
Emmure’s seventh album will not set the world alright for originality. At its core, it is chock-full of deathcore hallmarks that you’ve heard before. The aggression is certainly worth noting – there are few albums out there that can match Palmeri et al’s ire here, but ‘Look At Yourself’ will not be welcoming many detractors in from the cold. But you get the distinct impression that that’s not the band’s goal – they look after their own, and their own will be more than happy with what’s on offer here.
These have been tumultuous times for Emmure, but they’ve come out the other side swinging viciously and flexing their muscles. Where many bands would have folded, these guys keep going. Next round; let’s go. So while ‘Look At Yourself’ isn’t offering anything new to the genre, the tenacity and unwavering belief in themselves to overcome adversity is impressive. It may feel a little staid and lacking progression, but their perseverance deserves a certain amount of respect.