What can I say about EMBR that I haven’t said before? After a year of knowing this absolutely incredible four piece, I have had the opportunity, and honour, to both review and interview the Alabama quartet multiple times, and through the passage of time, I have seen the band grow, and flourish immensely. Through the majesty of the internet, social media, and an ocean between us, I’ve watched the band evolve, and been able to converse with the guys on a number of occasions, and always had the most interesting exchanges indeed.
When they announced they would be doing a three track EP, in celebration of New Heavy Sounds 10th Anniversary, it got me extremely intrigued as to just where the band were heading next on their adventures. After the success of debut album 1823, and the following grunge classics covers EP, it was always going to be a revelation just how the band would evolve, and if the lessons learned on previous outings would shape the development of new EP, 1021.
I had absolutely no fear that what would come forth would be incredible, and I was happily rewarded by what EMBR have come back with now. Without wanting to sound too fan boy about the whole affair, I’m going to throw out there right now, that I love this band. The grunge EP really was a masterstroke, and saw them add another element to their sound, which elevated them far beyond most of their peers for me. The angst and moroseness of the grunge classics seemed to awaken something, and the dynamic result was an absolute joy to hear.
On 1021, EMBR have capitalised on that formula, and then evolved again, into something that gels, and works so incredibly well, that it’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since that first album. The sound flows so incredibly, and you can really feel the tightness of the band through the way the tracks have been constructed, working as one gargantuan beast, not so much four individuals, as it’s a bigger entity, a sum of all its parts.
Opener Vesuvius erupts as if it is the very volcano itself. It isn’t so much an opening as it is a statement; ‘EMBR are here, get ready fuckers.’ After a fiery introduction, Crystal’s ethereal vocal swoops in, and pulls everything into line. Each part is absolutely electric, from the power play of her vocal, and those guttural growls, to the pounding drums, visceral guitar work, and that insane bassline. EMBR are taking no prisoners, they step in, and the mission statement is clear, they’re stamping their name in to the concrete, for all to see.
The depth they’ve created is absolutely fantastic, and really pushes the band beyond being just another doom band…
Born enters with a real slow burn feel, before Erik’s drum, and Crystal’s vocal descend in to join the mix. This track truly taps into that grungy feel from the last EMBR outing, its slow, lurching, and menacing. Crystal’s vocal is absolutely captivating over the doom grunge background, which EMBR seem to be slowly making their own thing. The break downs are slow and drudgy, and with Mark’s chugging guitar, and Alan’s heart stopping bass, this is a band really in control of their destiny.
A Grave For The Axe forces you to sit up and listen. Right from the entrance, Erik pummels those drums, and really shows just how hungry they are to get your full attention. Through the ebb and flow of the track, the slower, dreamier mids are interwoven with visceral growls, rumbling bass, and a pounding that gets the blood pumping. Add to that the chugging guitar, it completes the piece perfectly.
With the EP firmly on repeat, with every listen it just gets better and better, and at no point does it hit a single second where I even consider switching it for anything else.
To say EMBR have evolved is an understatement, but in doing so, they haven’t lost any element along the way. They’ve taken an idea, thrown in a lot of love, taken some chances, and boy was it a fantastic move. The depth they’ve created is absolutely fantastic, and really pushes the band beyond being just another doom band.
Being on this ride, having caught EMBR early on, has truly been a revelation, and to watch them grow really has been a privilege. Long may the band continue to push those boundaries, and break through them, because it really does show that even in a genre of tried and tested sensibilities, rules are meant to be broken, and that’s exactly what EMBR are here to do.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish