Review Summary: Emmure make a statement with this video game inspired release, but show slight signs that they are beginning to lose the aggression which made them what they are.
Musical inspiration from video games is an extreme rarity in the Heavy Metal genre, but Deathcore giants Emmure have managed to compose an entire album based on this unusual theme, and it doesn't sound as bad as you'd think.
Emmure is a five piece Deathcore act from Connecticut, commonly associated with other bands such as Whitechapel and The Acacia Strain. Their previous albums have done the genre proud. Intense, rage inspired music was what made them, and "Slave To The Game" delivers more of this, with the addition of some material which deviates from its basis.
To break it down (no pun intended), Slave To The Game contains twelve tracks, all following the theme of historic video game moments and characters. The album fades in with "Insert Coin", which leads directly into "Protoman" the first single from this release, featuring the breakdowns which have become Emmure's trademark along with some solid melodic work which hasn't been visited by the band extensively in their history. Quite a few of the songs on the album are generally less intrusive than the band's past work. "Cross Over Attack", "MDMA" and "War Begins With You" feature much more melodic work and lets fans see the band's lighter side, but unfortunately this lack of aggression is less appealing as it may sound. It shows the tell-tale signs that the band is beginning the become detached from their roots and losing much of the pure rage which made them popular to begin with.
Although the album has some unappealing aspects, songs such as "She Gave Her Heart To Deadpool", "Umar Dumps Dormammu" and "Blackheart Reigns" feature good head-banging aggression and show that the band still has a statement to make, regardless of what they are basing their music on. These tracks come as a relief for fans of Emmure's earlier work, but unfortunately there aren't enough of such tracks for Deathcore fiends to feast on.
In terms of musicality, the standard guitar work is still here, with each song featuring no more than a few basic chords and although this has been a controversial part of Emmure's music, fans will still be pleased that the band can compose heavy material similar to their earlier releases. Frankie Palmeri's vocals are as brutal as ever in the heavier songs but can be mediocre and cringe-worthy on the softer tracks. The drumming is better than past material, taking on a slight Djent feel with some impressive, non-linear pedal work and fills. The bass work backs up the drumming well and adds brutality to many of the breakdowns. The music is also accompanied by a variety of historic video game sound effects which lets the album stay true to its theme and gives off an "arcady" feel which will impress fans of both the band and video games.
To summarise, Emmure are still very much Deathcore giants, but I cannot help but feel that they're on a steady decline from the music which made them. Fans of the band will still enjoy a listen but may be somewhat disappointed to find that the aggressive, rage inspired roots of the group may have been irreparably severed.
Tracks To Listen To:
"I Am Onslaught"
"Umar Dumps Dormammu"