Emmure’s Felony and I started off on the wrong foot. It’s the word Felony itself. My mind conjures up statements like: I’m a criminal, a bad ass, this record is so brutal we should be in jail. I hear Scott Ian saying, “I’m so bad, I should be in detention” but taking himself seriously as he says it. I prepared myself to be let down, lowered my expectations, and was actually pleasantly surprised.
Emmure seem to have written this album as a whole instead of track by track. They do not bore you by showing you everything they can do in every single track, nor to do they write the same song over and over again. From the time I heard the first riff of the beautifully titled, Sunday Bacon until I reached the last track, Immaculate Misconception, I was interested in hearing what came next. I admit I’m a sucker for rhythmic guitars and drums with heavy staccato bass, so it was easy to hook me in even though the more “pop” sensibilities that will turn off the hardcore (insert sub genre) crowd were sort of grating. However, if you don’t mind that kind of thing on occasion, read on.
Jesse Ketiva and Mike Mullholand keep it interesting without the excessive noodling that can be so very boring and cause attention to wander. They are able to get a bit technical, as demonstrated by the track First Impression, and can also create soundscapes like the main riff in The Philosophy of Time Travel though this album mainly relies on straight ahead heavy riffing. The guitars benefit from creative production at times with panning, but the volume swells could have been left out. Bands in any genre can be hamstrung by the vocals, and depending on your preferences, you will probably either love or hate the vocals here with very few opinions falling in the middle. Frankie Palmeri does have a lot of tools at his disposal, and he makes good use of them throughout Felony. There is more than a touch of nu-metal in the vocals, but with this music it works well. It would be unfair to cite that as a negative with such a versatile singer and considering the style they seem to be going for. Lyrical quality varies throughout. It’s as if Palmeri was going for tone only at times, placing growls, squeals or even chanting in the context of the music rather than shooting for poetry. Overall the lyrics are, at worst, acceptable, sometimes clever, and at best funny. Drummer Mike Kaabe keeps the underlying rhythms moving throughout. Simple parts, such as the guitar breaks on the track, Bars in Astoria, showcase skill and creative playing by Kaabe. Bassist Mark Davis does a good job of being the bridge between guitars and the drums. Some of the bass detail was a little fuzzy to me, but he clearly holds down the bottom. The bass is another area in which the nu-metal aesthetic makes an appearance, but again, it fits with the overall sound. In terms of production, Felony gets positive marks for having a decent mix and not ever sounding like Metallica’s “Load”, which is the pinnacle in what not to do in a studio.
How you feel about Felony is going to very much depend on how strongly you identify with any one aspect of the genre. In other words, if Necrophagist is your thing, this may very well not be. Ultimately I’m happy to have gotten the chance to review this album; to me it’s a great reminder to listen with your ears and not with your eyes. Emmure’s Felony is solid effort, nothing groundbreaking, but catchy and worth the listen for fans of this style of metal.
1. Sunday Bacon
2. I Thought You Met Telly And Turned Me Into Casper
3. I <3 EC2
5. You Sunk My Battleship
6. The Philosophy Of Time Travel
7. First Impressions
9. Bars In Astoria
10. Lesson From Nichole
11. Don’t Be One
12. Immaculate Misconception