Release Date: 11/9/13
Track Count: 8
Emergent is a relatively new band based in Minneapolis, MN formed in 2011. Anyone who knows the Minneapolis metal scene knows that Emergent is essentially a supergroup consisting of members Aaron Dahl (Severah), Matt Burke (Black Days Down, 3 Pill Morning), Jamal Carlson (Daybreak Medusa, Aestyria), Gary Pahl (Samsahra, Faction) and Peter Ogrodnik (PHiXT). This group of guys have merged together a wide range of talents and metal variety to form the incredibly successful Emergent. The debut self-titled release, Emergent, consists of 8 tracks bringing forth some of the best that Minneapolis music has to offer.
“Dead Letters” opens up the album and is the front runner for what makes Emergent heavy metal. The scratchy guitar licks are very reminiscent of early nu-metal and quickly gets you geared up for more. Aaron’s nearly hypnotic vocals overlay an element of smooth on top of what is clearly a rough and scratchy music base. It’s like a music mixture of sweet and sour, well, kind of. There is most definitely, without a doubt, an influence of Sevendust in this, but then you get to about the 3 minute mark and the whole quickly de-evolves into this math metal almost Meshuggah style injection of aggression and that off-tempo music is not easy to do.
So the other night I was watching X-Men and there is a scene when Sabertooth grabs Storm by the neck and says “Scream for me”. Then I listen to “Scream With Me”, and I’m sorry but that’s the only thing I can think about every single time I hear “Scream With Me”. The great thing about it though is that it has an incredible catchy rhythm that just makes you naturally bob your head and slowly swing your body in sync with the song. I do feel however that just shy of half way through the track, it gets a little bit too soft, too gentle, too comforting, dare I say too melodic. But it recovers and closes really strong.
“Let It Fade” is more of an exercise in the range of Aaron’s vocals; going from whispering to belting out to melodic spoken word to gentle but raspy aggression. The man really is a very talented vocalist, I can’t dispute that even if I tried. This track also slows things down quite a bit, but not nearly so much that you begin to loose interest. If you just close your eyes and let the melodies soak in, you can really hear the synergy that these guys have come together and that is a rare thing in most music today. There is always someone in the band who wants to be the stand out, the showboat, but Emergent is musically one unit and “Let It Fade” really embodies that.
Moving back into the scratchy, raspy guitar licks is “Erode”. You can hear it from Emergent’s Soundcloud page right here (if you don’t see anything below from Soundcloud, you may have an adblocker active, so shut off the adblocker so you can listen to it!):
Much like “Dead Letters”, I really like the touch of nu-metal that is in “Erode”. Being heavy doesn’t always have to be all super down-tuned and layered a dozen times with distortion effects, and “Erode” shows that off perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, they use distortion, but not so much that you can’t hear the individual notes of the guitars. Now, there is one thing in “Erode” that bothers me greatly, in some spots of the chorus is this low bass grumbling that could almost be an explosion, or an earthquake or something ‘booming’. I listened to it probably a dozen times and I think that it is a super heavily distorted vocal, but even with my nearly 20 years of death metal experience, I couldn’t decipher what may be said, if anything at all. Oh, and at the very end Aaron let’s out this amazing guttural scream, just fantastic!
The interlude known as “Lowervoid” is just a smattering of musical bits that isn’t technically a song, it’s more like an experimental sample really. It’s still pretty cool though once you listen closely to all the little noises in the background coming together to build this short but sweet instrumental track.
Then the listener is seamlessly thrown right back into the mix with “The Fall”, a familiar style to earlier tracks while still being independent from them. This track really is the first time that I could clearly hear Jamal’s bass being well represented. Not to say that it was non-existent in previous tracks, but it’s almost like the bass can be heard much more prominently alongside the dual guitars and that is very refreshing. Once again, Aaron waits until nearly the end before unleashing his fantastic gravelly screams, he’s such a tease. In fact, listen for it yourself right here:
I have to say that “Reflect To Forget” is easily the most emotionally involving track and you can really hear it in Aaron’s vocals. The guitars from Gary and Peter begin somewhat slow and melodic but then tear into this craggy, nickel wound duet that is perfectly harmonized with a really interesting drum rhythm, kind of ‘boomboom… pop… boomboom… pop…”. Think like a high-speed 3 beat rhythm drawn out into a 4 beat pattern. Perhaps I’m over analyzing it and I’m no music major, but the rhythm from Matt is honestly really cool. The rest of the track is a blend of all of the elements of every other song on the album pulled together into this melting pot that is Emergent. One might think that a song like this, emotional, a culmination of styles from other songs, would make it the last track, but it’s not!
The closer of this impressive debut album is “Out of the Grey”. The ending track is another mixture of styles track similar to “Reflect To Forget”, but then at the very end, holy smokes, there is this piano piece that is absolutely wonderful. With all the emotion and metal and grinding guitars and quick beats, to close it all off with a gentle and harmonious piano piece is completely brilliant. It’s like if you were to jump out of a plane, and as you plummet to the Earth you pass through different layers of environment; some smooth, some colorful, some harsh, some bruising you, but then at the very end of the trip, you land on this soft, fluffy mass of comfort and safety.
All in all, I have been listening to many of these guys in their other/previous bands for many years and I must say that I couldn’t be more happy that this combination found itself because it has made what I believe will be a major name in the alternative metal scene. The melodies, those hoarse guitars, emotional and solid vocals, all of it comes together to make a pleasant listening experience. Oh, and one of the best things about Emergent, hands down, is that they sound just as good live as they do on the album. And it’s because of reasons like that, that Emergent won the Rawkzilla 2013 Battle of the bands!
The Grand Finals were insane! Congrats to @Emergentband taking 1st place! Next season is gonna Rawk! @MplsMediaEdu, #rawkzilla13
— Rawkzilla.com (@RealRawkzilla) November 8, 2013