Review Summary: I tried. I really tried.
What's worse than a low-quality deathcore band" A low-quality deathcore band that doesn't make any legitimate attempt to evolve their sound or bring themselves out of the pool of mediocrity. Don't get me wrong; I'd be lying if I said I hated all deathcore, as bands like Carnifex and All Shall Perish are definitely above average. However, most of the genre's bands that have increased the quality of their material have done so by incorporating other genres and ideas (case in point: Carnifex having hints of black metal) into their formula.
With Emmure, it seems that there's been no escape from the incessant pummeling of their material from about 90% of the metalheads out there. Billed by many as a "Bro-core" band, Emmure have gotten constant criticism for their bland midtempo chugs, excessive breakdowns, and Fred Durst-inspired clean vocals, none of which have left from their repertoire. Unfortunately, their latest album "Slave to the Game" brings nothing new to the table and even manages to be worse than the majority of their work.
There's still plenty of "chugga-chugga"-esque riffing going on in drop A (and sometimes going down to G) tuning, with the repetitive guitar and drum work taking effect as usual. The biggest problem with the album, the one that sends it over the deep end, is how forced and lifeless the "experiments" are. On "Protoman" (most likely a reference to Mega Man, going with their love of video games), there are few instances of melody. However, once the silly vocal shouts and breakdowns come back into play, those instances go down the drain and are quickly forgotten, as they simply felt thrown in as a cheap way to break up the monotony.
The other thing that kills the album is just how much the repetition starts to drill through the listener's brain. The riffs are completely mind-numbing after the first few songs, and the overproduced guitar sound only gives more of an impression that the album was created in an assembly line instead of a real band creating it. Plus, it always seems like the band try to cover this up with pure heaviness, like in "Blackheart Reigns"'s breakdown. It is, in fact, heavy, but it isn't really as effective when it rambles on for the rest of the tune instead of picking itself back up for a more interesting ending. As with most of the album, it all relies on one guitar string to get the job done.
Honestly, that's about it. If you like "bro-downs," need a generic bottom-of-the-barrel deathcore fix, or want to hear what Limp Bizkit would sound like it they were a deathcore band, knock yourself out. Meanwhile, the rest of us will forget this album was ever released and listen to something far more substantial in the metal department... or, hell, any department.
Frankie Palmeri - vocals
Jesse Ketive - lead guitar
Mike Mulholland - rhythm guitar
Mark Davis - bass guitar
Mark Castillo - drums