Review Summary: So here's to starting over, the future's mine to claim.
Rise Records have a history of signing some the least credible bands in music; bands that it would seem have been created for the sole purpose of giving internet forums across the entire musical spectrum a collective target at which they can channel all of their hatred. Then something crazy happened, Rise Records decided to sign another band whose debut EP only hinted at a continuation of the trend, featuring whiny vocals and chug chug instrumentation that would surely illicit such witty responses as ‘needs moar breakdowns’. Emarosa’s Rise Records debut, however, was a far cry from their previous offering, recruiting Jonny Craig of Dance Gavin Dance fame to perform vocal duties, ‘Relativity’ consisted of melodic post-hardcore with soaring vocal lines and experimental song structures, essentially giving the middle finger to all the potential haters. With such a hype surrounding the first LP, one may be forgiven for doubting the band’s ability to ever follow up with anything comparatively decent. Emarosa’s self titled second offering will silence the doubters.
Of course, it would not be an Emarosa review without having a section devoted to Jonny Craig. Quite simply, Craig possesses a phenomenal gift for singing, a gift that he has demonstrated consistently since the early days of Dance Gavin Dance. Whereas Relativity was the record of a band who were intent on creating complex songs in which the instrumentation and vocals were to be considered equal, Craig’s vocals are very much at the forefront this time, and for good reason. His transitions from soft soulful swooning to powerful gritty wails are impeccable, a versatility that is marginally unmatched by anyone else in the current ‘post-hardcore scene’. None demonstrates this more potently than opening track ‘Here’s to the Future, Kids’, in which Craig’s voice appears to have been given free reign to do whatever it wants, and so is able to display both ends of his vocal range.
As aforementioned, the instrumentation has taken a comparative back seat to the vocals in this release, though this is not necessarily detrimental musically. The rhythm section is as tight as ever, and the crystal clear production allows for each member of the band to shine at various parts (albeit often very briefly), whereas previously the instruments appear to have been more blended, almost in the style of a drone. The inclusion of more traditional song structures and (shock horror) actual choruses allows for a more accessible sound and whilst this takes away from the complexity and experimentation that had previously been considered one of their most appealing factors by such a select audience, it allows for the record to appeal to a more wide reaching demographic and is effectively one of the great features of the band’s new sound.
That is not to say, however, that there are no low points to the record. Anyone familiar with the ‘I Still Feel Her’ series will probably not have been too surprised to see the inclusion of a fourth installment here. Whilst not a poor track in itself, it does beg the question of how long this seemingly never ending succession will continue. Has anyone actually listened to Bat out of Hell Part III? I rest my case. Furthermore, there is some limitation in song variation, which is ultimately the most major downfall of an otherwise great record. There are a lot of clean passages led by solid drumming and soft vocals followed by big distorted choruses which, whilst impressive and often dynamically sound, eventually reach a stage of overkill by the end of the album.
So is ‘Emarosa’ a progression in sound fitting of the hype? The answer is a resounding yes, with the band opting for a more accessible sound which allows for their Craig’s vocals to shine without compromising the effectiveness of his fellow musicians. There are hooks galore and an emotion that has been bubbling under the surface for quite some time. This is not the release of another Circa Survive rip off; this is the release of a band at the top of their game and at the peak of the current post-hardcore pile.