Emmure should’ve called it a day a long, long time ago. For one, they tie with Attila for some of the most braindead deathcore knuckle-dragging going, but they may even exceed that band in terms of sheer idiocy with the aborted foetus that was 2014’s Eternal Enemies, an utterly worthless album glorifying gun violence and homophobia, as well as other ideas that should never have left Frankie Palmeri’s thick skull. As well as that there’s also the fact that every member other than Palmeri left in late 2015. But somehow the frontman has managed to rally a new crew to back him up, an intriguing prospect considering some of those involved, particularly Josh Travis, former guitar wizard of mathcore mob The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. It could at least point to something a bit more technically interesting for the future, and maybe even seeing Emmure evolve and – whisper it – improve.
And while that might be the case to an extent, at the end of the day Look At Yourself is still an Emmure album, and carries the exact same hallmarks that usually makes them such a waste of time and effort – painfully base, lacking in any real dynamic, and feeling a lot more dragged out than it actually is. But really it would take some effort for Look At Yourself to be as abysmal as Eternal Enemies was, and for the sheer fact that a regrouped lineup contains musicians with at least some vestige of dexterity, this still feels like an improvement overall. In fact there are even times when Look At Yourself can be quite enjoyable like the meaty bounce of Shinjuku Masterlord, and while Ice Man Confessions is really trying to be Korn, the effort is at least appreciated.
Credit it where it’s due for at least putting some work in, but for the most part, Look At Yourself is just so dull, coasting by on Emmure’s typical mannerisms in a way that makes this half hour album seem twice as long. At least Eternal Enemies had controversy; this has nothing noteworthy about it whatsoever. It gets even worse when the wasted potential hits; bear in mind that Emmure now features alumni of bands like Glass Cloud and The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, acts that have become genuinely revered in tech-metal circles, squandering their potential on ham-fisted chuggers like Russian Hotel Aftermath and Call Me Ninib that have next to no replay value after one spin.
Then there’s the small matter of Palmeri himself, and to be fair, he doesn’t come across as the ignorant, myopic idiot that he did last time. Although sometimes it would’ve been preferable if he had, as it would at least make for something to talk about, something that his reversion to ‘generic deathcore frontman’ factory settings doesn’t do. He doesn’t give a fuck, natch, and he’ll be damned if that isn’t well and truly drilled in by the end of this album, as that’s pretty much where any content begins and ends. And the fact that so much emphasis is placed upon his most thuggish affectations in such a forced attempt to seem like a gangsta or a hardman is just precious. At least when Chris Fronzak tries a similar thing it’s played up so that there’s a shred of comedic timing and self-awareness; the closest Palmeri comes to that is on Flag Of The Beast‘s breakdown “Hate me if it makes you feels better”. Otherwise it’s projected so straightforwardly without any knowledge of its own hyperbole that it feels just as base and meatheaded as it the music its paired with, reaching its utmost nadir with the rapping on Major Key Alert which drifts too close for comfort to unironic Fred Durst worship.
But honestly, this is all Emmure in a nutshell, refusing to budge from a template that has inexplicably taken them this far, and with another offering that’ll undoubtedly keep their fanbase moshing into the wee hours. But that’s exactly the problem, in that this was never a good template to start with, made even worse by the fact that there’s absolutely no excuse anymore for them to be this horrendously simplistic. And given that there’s precisely nothing that stands out by any merit, it doesn’t even have the same talking points that at least made Eternal Enemies something to talk about. Look At Yourself is just another bad album from a band who’ve made that their forte, and just like most of their previous efforts, this will hopefully be forgotten this time next week.
For fans of: After The Burial, Attila, Korn
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Look At Yourself’ by Emmure is out now on SharpTone Records.