Emmure The Respect Issue
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01. Young, Rich and Out of Control
02. Sound Wave Superior
03. I Only Mean Half of What I Don't Say
04. False Love in Real Life
05. Chicago's Finest
06. Tales From the Burg
07. Rough Justice
80. Snuff 2: The Resurrection
09. Dry Ice
10. You're More Like Friend Without the "R"
I should probably preface this review with a small disclaimer. Until The Respect Issue arrived in the mail from Lambgoat, I had never heard a single song from Emmure. I'd heard tons about the band, from people who absolutely loved Goodbye to the Gallows and from people who loathed the band's very existence. In these situations, though, I often find that the band is rarely as good as its champions proclaim, and not quite as terrible as its detractors bemoan.
Although after listening to The Respect Issue, I can't say I feel any ill will towards the band as much as embarrassment. The Respect Issue is a by-the-numbers release of a band aware of its growing irrelevance. And if we were hurting for yet another parallel between nu-metal and metalcore, this album absolutely oozes the desperation of the waning years of nu-metal. Emmure seem to struggle with "getting back to their roots" - by paying lipservice to a variety of genres they only superficially understand and "broadening their horizons/really escalating what they started" - by hackeneyed attempts at melody and empty radio-friendly melodies.
The sound here is pretty much what you'd expect if you took your generic "metal posturing and then chugga chugga breakdown" metalcore album and dumbed it down by several orders of magnitude. Frankie Palmeri shifts between the expected high-register screams, spoken word and faux-death metal gutturals. Guitarists Ben Lionetti and Jesse Ketive chug themselves retarded, and seem to be above the idea of "changing chords," while Joe Lionetti tries his best to make beginner's drumming sound powerful and hard-hitting. I'd like to say something about Mark Davis' basswork, but he ultimately gets lost amidst Lionetti and Ketive's ubiquitous chugging.
In theory, the album would be salvageable thanks to its production, which is amazingly well executed: punchy enough to still hit home, but with enough sheen to maintain its appeal over repeated listens. But what really sinks things is the songwriting, which follows the shameless pattern set by the nu-metal Johnny-come-latelys that emerged in the early 2000s; Emmure dutifully mimics some of the more "successful" moments in heavy music of the past few years - emerging here as constant breakdowns that can't even be called breakdowns, since there isn't a notable change of pace during the first four tracks. Then they throw in a ham fisted radio-friendly rock tune that still sounds completely out of place ("Chicago's Finest"), and then toss off some electronic "experimentation" and maybe an instrumental number to give the superficial appearance of depth ("I Only Mean Half of What I Don't Say" and "Dry Ice" respectively). And just in case, the band throws in a bit of the old standard: Some "I'm so tortured" posturing from nu-metal university - the "I'm so over it" and "Just fucking die" refrains from "Tales From the Burg."
I was going to mention the absurdity of having a wrestler on the cover of the album, but what's the point There's enough strikes against the album in the instrumentation and execution that there's no reason to bring up quibbles with silly cover art.
In short, The Respect Issue has all the pitfalls of not only a generic metalcore album, but also a latter-day nu-metal album. The result is shameless in its trend hopping, but also horribly dated when it's not busy doing that.
Bottom Line: The Respect Issue has more chugs in it than Adidas tracksuits were sold during the height of Korn's popularity. It's derivative and shameless and really has nothing redeeming about it. But. It sounds pretty and has the right balance of manufactured rebellion and trendy genre appropriation, so it'll probably sell like hotcakes. The only comfort here is that it'll be the kind of album Emmure's erstwhile fans will look back on and cringe, and the kind of album that'll be noted as one of the final nails in the sad coffin of cookie-cutter metalcore drivel.
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