Emmure – Goodbye to the Gallows Review

Emmure: a metalcore band. Nothing more, nothing less. Original? Not close. Unique? Absolutely not. This is the kind of music that it’s painful to listen to, only because it reminds one of how originality is often forgone in the music biz in favor of ability to copycat an existing trend. Whether originality EVER makes a difference could be debated until Phil Spector stops beating his wives; regardless, it’s certainly not found here.

Are Emmure good at what they do? Without a doubt. It does take dedication and practice to do what they do, after all. They have not, however, put out the “most brutal record of 2007,” as their label would have you believe- unless by brutal they meant “hackneyed.” On Goodbye to the Gallows, their debut with Victory Records, Emmure scream, snarl, chug and change up the tempo. Clearly they’ve studied the masters; now they’re regurgitating the musical facets of more pioneering bands that led to success.

What they are lacking, though, is something that makes them stand out from the sea of short, artificially dour-looking tattooed men with buzzcuts and thick necks that make up their peers. They are lacking something that demonstrates they’re capable of branching out and embracing changes in trends. They are lacking any sign of having holding power: next year you won’t remember who they are; they’ll be lumped in with the other coattail-riders of 2007’s metal scene. Put it on while you’re doing work at the computer, and you’ll forget there’s even music playing: it’s as blandly one-dimensional and soothing as pure white noise. This could be a new genre entirely- easy metalcore, designed to serve as background music while still making you feel like you’re sufficiently putting time in as a disaffected proletariat! It could be played in elevators in all the Wall Street buildings, it’s that inoffensive and banal. I can see the lawyers and investors riding up to their 76th story window office suites to the tune of “Rusted Over Wet Dreams.”

Wait, “Rusted Over Wet Dreams?”

Stop the presses. This band DOES have some imagination- their song titles are so tongue-in-cheek that they’re in danger of blasting a hole through the damn sides of their faces:

“When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong”
“You Got a Henna Tattoo That Said Forever”
“It’s Not Just a Party, It’s a Funeral”

And then included on the album is the obligatory ballad- you know the one; it starts out pretty and melodic, then jumps to growled cries of agony, then back to the soft and pretty again, until we’ve gotten the point that the singer is mad about something, but he’s sad about it too, but part of him is still upset, probably because he somehow feels culpable for whatever terrible event befell him, and the whole thing wraps up with the denouement of the singer feeling purged of his sensations of guilt and regret and vowing to let it go and move on.

These clever blokes are onto something; they have the formula down pat. Perhaps I’m not giving them enough credit- perhaps they DO have the wherewithal to move with the times, riding it as a wave of overwrought trends upon which to draw and mimic, earning their paycheck by acting a part just as any other entertainer would. They know just how to fly below the radar, keeping their music mediocre enough not to set off any alarms, lest they be outed as fakes.

Unfortunately, that self-awareness doesn’t make the trite songs they’re pushing any more worthwhile to listen to, and it doesn’t grant them credibility as serious musicians. I’ll be curious to see what the next bandwagon they hop on and emulate will be, though, as I’m sure they’ll once again have everyone convinced of the sincerity of their next personas.

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