Review Summary: It exists to be listened to by the hordes of teens still using myspace to find music, but it isn't all bad. 5.6/10
The “myspace post-hardcore” scene is riddled with bands all ripping off Circa Survive and then adding lots of horrible breakdowns and harsh vocals. Now, the first sign to be wary of is the blatant riffing of Circa Survive, who in the first place only succeed when they do thanks to a strong singer, while the music is generally lifeless and already ripped from other places. Adding in generic breakdowns ala The Human Abstract or even All That Remains really doesn’t help that sound at all, and then deciding to growl or scream incessantly only makes an unpleasant situation more unpleasant. However, Emarosa actually has the talent to stray out of that box. They were able to lead Dance Gavin Dance’s old vocalist, Johnny Craig, into the fray, so its obvious that they at least had SOMETHING. Do they prove it on their first full length, Relativity
? Yes and no.
Emarosa are one of the most unique bands that you can still blanket under that generic scene I mentioned earlier. Though in the beginning they were pretty standard, they seemed to be invigorated by the prospect of a new singer and really tried to push their music as far as they could into the realms of spacey-post hardcore. A lot of Hopesfall, newer Underoath and Circa Survive influence/material is to be found here, and even some spacey Cave-In-esque jams are included to make things feel a bit more “esoteric”. One moment you’ll find them getting trippy with the guitar effects and singer Craig belting out an oddly smooth and reflective line, then you’ll hear a crunching riff and a strained yell that hits hard. Just as often that you’ll find them experimenting with vocal effects and song structures, proving they don’t want to be stuck in the rut that most bands of their type fall under. They also have strange moments where they get really groove-based, and its almost like an entirely different, almost better band is rearing its head.
However, they still end up being way too repetitive as the album goes on. Where great post-hardcore bands like At the Drive-In or even the Blood Brothers attempt to make every song feel like a different creative venture, Emarosa’s songwriting yet lacks that killer instinct to make sufficiently different songs. The tracks all blend together, not in little part due to the breakdowns they throw in, which never do anything but detract from what they had been accomplishing just seconds earlier. None of the songs end up being particularly bad in comparison to any of the others, but it also makes for a lack of standout songs, something that seriously hurts the album. The closest that comes to really breaking out is “Just Another Marionette”, where the soaring chorus highlights Craig’s still developing but already promising vocals, and shows the bands willingness to experiment with their formula. “Her Advice Cost Us a Life” is a similarly strong song, rewarding us with one of the few seriously awesome breakdowns on the record.
In the end, Relativity
is most hurt by the lack of chemistry. While you can see the niche Craig fills in the band, the quickness they took in writing these songs with a new singer is apparent, and at times the cohesion between vocals and music just isn’t there. At the beginning of “Set if Off Like Napalm” we get a crushing riff, but Craig’s strained yelling just doesn’t fit yet. On some songs it comes off as though the band had written these songs way before Craig was even a possibility, making them harder to appreciate. Relativity
in the end is still a strong release in a mediocre scene, as the technical ability of the band is still top notch, and their willingness to try and bend all the cliches they use to their own end is admirable. Almost certainly Emarosa should be at the top of the pack with another release, but for right now don’t expect much more than a light Circa Survive/Underoath hybrid.