Emery
I'm Only A Man


2.0
poor

Review

by Sean Rizzo USER (32 Reviews)
August 14th, 2008 | 78 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Emery try too hard to progress by going too many directions, not developing a single one of them.

Emery are one of those post-hardcore bands that generally appeal to a large array of different people due to a rather expansive list of influences and a focus on heavy/soft dynamic; there are plenty of immediately accessible elements like the soaring vocal harmonies and catchy pop sensibilities, but the band aren’t afraid to throw down with crashing, dissonant chords with loads of screaming and intensity from all members. They are also notorious for staying away from verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structures in favor of either constantly building the song or going in multiple directions, utilizing any number of their influences. However, perhaps the best thing about Emery are the duel vocalists, both of which possess some pretty remarkable pipes in comparison with the overwhelming majority of the clean vocals in post-hardcore (sorry guys, you may be good, but you place third after Daryl Palumbo and Dustin Kensrue). While these vocals are still present on I’m Only a Man, they’re unfortunately the only thing the band’s retained at this point; gone are the effective loud/quiet dynamics, the intelligent songwriting, the seamless catchiness, and most notably, the establishment of album flow and/or cohesion.

It’s immediately apparent from the first song, “Rock N’ Rule” that Emery wanted to try something new with this album. The song is all over the place, which is good, because if it weren’t for that, it would be a total, boring mess. The riffs in the song (and the majority of the album) are super boring and are one of the many things that make the music feel forced; there’s also the weak songwriting and ever-present blandness to help contribute. The production is also different than their past albums, going for an overall lighter sound. This is yet another thing that helps the dynamics be less effective; when the album gets loud and intense, there’s not enough oomph in the sound to truly make you feel its presence. A fortunate exception is the final act of “After the Devil Beats His Wife”; the majority of the song spends its time meandering through bland romps of different versions of post-hardcore before finally climaxing with crashing cymbals, dissonant chords and screaming vocals that make for a deceivingly powerful moment, all due to the fact that the song meanders without doing anything explosive for so long. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it wasn’t for the fact almost every highlight of the album is a highlight for that very reason. It’s not a good thing when the best parts of your album only stand out because the majority of the rest of it is so bad.

There are also many flat out awkward moments. Trying a new direction is always an ambitious thing, but trying too many at once often leads to disjointed songs, especially when all of the directions aren’t developed enough to be used properly. This is exactly what the biggest problem of I’m Only a Man is. The band are too busy throwing in random and lazy juxtapositions to worry about logical steps in the songwriting process. Almost all of the songs are immediately forgettable because of this, and it makes the entire album suffer, because the awkward flow is present both within the songs themselves, and the album as a whole; the songs simply don’t flow into each other.

There are a few things that save I’m Only a Man from being a complete mess. “The Party Song”, although being a complete departure from traditional Emery, works in its own merit. It’s a straightforward, catchy little number with the keys playing a poppy synth line to support the upbeat hooplah of a song. It’s this song where the band tries a new direction that works for them. They don’t try anything super intricate and they don’t throw in anything randomly, so the final product is the album’s wisely chosen first single. Another great track is the bizarre “Don’t Bore Us, Get to the Chorus”. The verses resort to a comfortable technique for Emery, building intensity, only for the song to take a complete turn with its electronica chorus. Now, this is just as random as the rest of the album’s twists and turns, but it works within the context of the song. The final portion of the song builds until the band strikes with full intensity and screaming is utilized, and it is very satisfying because the entire song flows seamlessly. About those screaming vocals, they’re generic as hell, but they aren’t bad and they get the job done. Thankfully the vast majority of the vocals on this album are Toby Morrell and Devon Shelton’s graceful cleans, so there is at least one reason to listen to the otherwise boring and/or bland songs. They’re especially notable in “Can’t Stop the Killer”, the album’s first ballad and final recommended track. The 10-minute closing track “From Crib to Coffin” would make the list if it wasn’t for its length; the last four or so minutes don’t bring anything new to the song with repetitive and bland build-ups that lead to nothing.

If you can overlook the frequent songwriting hiccups and disoriented album flow, really the biggest problem with I’m Only a Man is unforgivable: it’s lazy. Emery are a band that can and have in the past written songs with a slew of memorable qualities, none of which are present on this album. They’ve traded catchy pop sensibility, unique songwriting and intensely effective dynamics for lifeless pop songs, stale songwriting and bland soft/heavy transitions, garnering an almost completely ineffective dynamic when the heavy parts come around. At least Emery tried something different, and it’s a new sound for the band for sure, but that’s not what makes it bad; it’s how jagged and unnatural the entire album feels. There are a few good tracks, but it’s ultimately not enough to save it from being an overall snoozefest. The good thing about I’m Only a Man is that things can only go up from here as the band that made it has much greater potential.



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user ratings (461)
Chart.
3
good
other reviews of this album
David Shephard (3)
Emery swings for the fences, but only manages a little blooper that just falls for a hit....

Alex Trinkner CONTRIBUTOR (3.5)
Emery seems to have written a mixed bag of an album. There are many spectacular songs to find on I...

Adam Amanse (3.5)
Experimenting with a new sound, Emery seemed to have pulled it off......for the most part. Just get ...

sparklamb698 (3)
Hmm...so Emery picked the "Revolution" card instead of the "Evolution" card...but the album just doe...


Comments:Add a Comment 
ToWhatEnd
August 14th 2008


3172 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Your last paragraph is almost word for word with how I feel about the record. You gave good analysis, backed up your statements regardless of whether they were negative or positive and most importantly you were fair. Incredibly well written review.

raggedragamuffin
August 14th 2008


689 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

man was I disappointed in this album. probably a good part of the reason I rate it so low is because it pales in comparison to their first two releases.
I could tell something was wrong when I saw that Emery had a single called "The Party Song", even if, as you point out, that is one of the better songs on the album.

AmericnZero02
August 14th 2008


3360 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Great review. I agree with all of your points to some degree. Pretty upsetting album altogether, these guys have a lot of talent but pretty much dropped the ball with this one. On another note, I was browsing around the Showbread forums the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find you there Insect.

Digging: Copeland - Ixora

IAmInsect
August 14th 2008


3799 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

thanks mike. to be complimented like that by a reviewer such as yourself means a lot. and ragged, i agree.

IAmInsect
August 14th 2008


3799 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

On another note, I was browsing around the Showbread forums the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find you there Insect.
so are you gonna join or what yo

natey
August 14th 2008


4170 Comments


Good review although I wish/hope it isn't accurate. I love these guys.

IAmInsect
August 14th 2008


3799 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

their first two records are good. this one blows.

foreverendeared
August 14th 2008


14678 Comments


awesome review man. i've never really given these guys a chance

IAmInsect
August 14th 2008


3799 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

thanks, and you should start with the question; i think it's their best.

natey
August 14th 2008


4170 Comments


The Weak's End is amazing

shortz
August 14th 2008


201 Comments


Totally agree, With The Question they brought something new to the table in my mind, but with this release they hit a wall. Hopefully this new EP doesn't disappoint.

roofi
August 14th 2008


959 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice review, I haven't really listened to this since it came out. The Question is way, way better.

AndyRictor2000
August 24th 2008


146 Comments


weak's end is a beautiful album with a great flow to it. Sadly, the question and i'm only a man fail to come close to their first album.

KritikalMotion
August 27th 2008


2262 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

this is awful really. song names are even worse.

shawreck
June 3rd 2009


33 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just relistened to this because of the new one out. This is definately my favorite thing they've done. My advice to those disliking is to let it grow. I really feel it's worth it.

IAmInsect
June 8th 2009


3799 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

ah you didn't like the review. too bad!

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
June 25th 2009


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album could be a lot worse.

IAmInsect
June 25th 2009


3799 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yeah, don't bore us could not be on here. that song rules but the rest of the album blowsss.

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
June 25th 2009


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i honestly like after the devil beats his wife and i don't even mind the party song

roofi
June 25th 2009


959 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

quite happy that this turned out to be an aberration and not a trend



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