Review Summary: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
In the official “So, you want to play Metalcore?” guide (see Essence’s review for Felony
for more info), the last step details how bros should wait for a year and a half to two years to release another album. Well, Emmure failed to heed that particular piece of advice, because fourteen months after 2011’s crap-tastic Speaker of the Dead
, we’re treated to Slave to the Game
. So after all this time, after all of the bro jokes and breakdown jokes, is anything different on Slave to the Game
? Yes and no, with no far outweighing the yes.
As if you had any doubt, there are still breakdowns aplenty. The guitarists once again spend most of the record churning out binary code (0-0-1-0); however, on songs such as “Protoman” and “MDMA”, some melodic breaks and riffs are thrown in to keep things interesting. Despite the lack of originality behind said riffs, they fit the songs well and are actually a breath of fresh air from the plodding chugging that has plagued Emmure throughout their career. New drummer Mark Castillo (Between The Buried And Me
, Bury Your Dead
) does a decent job, but doesn’t really stand out from the rest of his bandmates. Once again, the bass is nearly inaudible, but it’s not really a big deal when it’s following the same rhythmic patterns. The band also embraces electronics on the album, but some songs overstay their welcome because of this (“Umar Dumps Dormammu” relies almost exclusively on electronics and samples, making it the worst track on the record).
Regarding the album and song titles, Emmure (most notably vocalist Frankie Palmeri) satisfies their love of video games on this record, having had a couple of songs from Speaker of the Dead
dedicated to Street Fighter (notably “Demons With Ryu” and “Last Words To Rose”). However, that’s about the extent of it, as the lyrics (the ones I could make out, anyway) cover the usual topics of fighting bros, teaming up with bros to fight other bros, and bros going through the motions (sorry, brotions) of life. Frankie’s vocals on the record alternate from his usual high-low bipolarity, and Fred Durst-esque talking, which sounds a lot more out of place than it usually does (on “MDMA”, Frankie keeps insisting that “he tried his f**king best”
). The good news is that there don’t appear to be any lyrics pertaining to d**k sucking, so that’s a plus.
Overall, Slave to the Game
sees Emmure finally taking the steps needed to improve their sound, but it’s still not enough to escape their clichés that so many people have criticized them for. Ridden with clichéd lyrics, awkwardly placed vocals, tedious chugging, and annoying electronics, Slave to the Game
winds up being just another album rather than the career-defining record Emmure chose not to make. In essence, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Better luck next year, bros.