Emmure – ‘Hindsight’

By Dave Stewart

Emmure have undergone quite the transformation over the last few years. In late 2015, the entire instrumental section of the band left, leaving vocalist Frankie Palmeri to front a band with no members. Unwilling to let the band fade away, Palmeri quickly found new recruits – former members of djent giants Glass Cloud and tech-metal wizards The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, and together they’ve been remoulding Emmure’s sound ever since.

Their 2017 album ‘Look At Yourself’ was the first offering from the new machine, showing their devastatingly heavy and effortlessly groovy foundations in a way fans had never seen it before. Now, in 2020, they’re presenting ‘Hindsight’, and they’ve taken a slightly different approach to the one they’ve taken in the past. The last record saw them pick up where they left off before the line-up change – this one sees them start to carve out a new path.

That new path becomes quickly clear as soon as album opener ‘(F)inally (U)nderstanding (N)othing’ erupts into action. Anarchic vibes ooze from it, from the bouncy rhythmic power of drummer Josh Miller and Nicholas Pyatt to the riotous and raw riff work from guitarist Josh Travis, all coming together to create a meaty backbone for Palmeri’s call to arms of “if you’re still with me after all these years, here we go.” In typical Emmure fashion the tone quickly changes from thanking the community surrounding the band to hitting out at copycats and fakes on ‘Trash Folder’, blending venomous vocals with razor sharp grooves to drive the point home that they’re just as pissed off as they’ve always been – it just sounds a little different.

The aggression and deranged nature they’ve become known for is still an integral part of the music, but it’s being delivered in a much more controlled and digestible way. ‘Pan’s Dream’ thrusts sinister tones and piercing feedback into the frontlines, delivering calculated blows with every gargantuan note and vicious scream. ‘Thunder Mouth’ begins sounding like a Nine Inch Nails track, but quickly evolves into a moody and gloomy wrecking ball full of bitterness and loathing. ’Gypsy Disco’ is a violent masterstroke, merging quotes from notorious punk singer GG Allin with brutal guitars, pounding drums and some of Palmeri’s most self-destructive lyrics to date.

‘Uncontrollable Descent’ forces eerie dissonance and thunderous chugs to collide, quickly reaching boiling point and staying there for the entire duration. ‘Persona Non Grata’ is a lesson in calamitous storytelling, playing around with dynamics to paint a vivid and frightening picture that repeatedly catches you off guard. There’s the up-tempo head-bang inducing grooves of ‘Pigs Ear’, the sludgy and ominous spine-tingling atmosphere of ‘203’, the brutal and unrelenting chaos of ‘Bastard Ritual’, the unstable bipolar weight contained within ‘Informal Butterflies’ – this is everything you know about Emmure presented in a way you’ve never heard it before and boy, does it hit hard.

What Emmure have created with ‘Hindsight’ is essentially a modern day nu-metal record. All the classic elements are here – hip-hop influenced vocal delivery, immediately memorable low tuned guitar grooves, classic tricks such as sampling and scratching. The only real difference is that the guitars are tuned far lower than the norm and the production is crisper than it’s ever sounded. Palmeri’s vocal delivery especially has shades of Fred Durst and Jonathan Davies to it, only with a far more demonic undertone and deep-rooted rage. The guitars are something else entirely too, with every single one of Travis’s notes punching through the mix to imprint its knuckles directly onto your eardrums.

This is undoubtedly the biggest, boldest and bravest step forwards that Emmure has taken in their entire career. The music is all mechanically tight and connects like a left-hand McGregor jab to the jaw. The only real let down is the occasionally tone-deaf, self-centred and immature lyrics, but that’s not exactly something that’s unusual for this genre and it’s the only sore thumb that stands out on an otherwise solid record. If you can look past that then you’ll find this to be a punishing, callous and provoking release from the band that everyone loves to hate.

DAVE STEWART

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