Hindsight (2020): a Broken Mirror

Naturally, when my partner and bestie began preaching about their lord and savior, Frankie Palmieri, I gravitated towards Emmure’s 8th album. The band is arguably one of deathcore’s most polarizing acts and have been characterized by fans and foes as everything from the scene’s most arrogant one trick pony to profound revolutionaries of fusion. Although many critics presume it’s his motto, I’m curious to know Palmieri’s take on the adage “all press is good press.” 

Hindsight (2020), Palmieri’s most introspective release to date, holds a magnifying glass to his self image. Has the self coined hobo, bum, God, savior, eternal, scumbag, wave-making, stage-setting, no-fuck’s giving, less-than-a-man, bad boy lost himself in the turbulence of his own legacy? I think not. Interviews indicate that his writing is not nearly as convoluted as many think; in Distorted Sound Mag Palmieri admits to using his lyrics as a healing method and sampling from The Simpsons. Where others see sacrilege I find confidence, culture and ownership. Palmieri’s brand is equal parts self loathing and self absorption, so don’t take it personally- or do- for all I care. Personally I admire the symmetry. Emmure balances out their deathcore roots with elements of hip hop, rap and shock rock in terms of style and instrumentation so I see no reason for them to shy away from these influences thematically. 

Despite its vengeful nature, Hindsight does not exclude soft and vulnerable from its catalogue. “203” and “Pan’s Dream” paint an impression of the universe’s mysteries with special attention to how we contemplate and contextualize them. Palmieri has a lot on his mind besides the success of his band and the subjects range from spiritual entities to the afterlife. 

Do not, however, mistake my defense for sycophancy. I would not regard Emmure as a particularly eloquent, orchestrated or ingenious group. I don’t think Hindsight is the album of all albums. But that’s not the point- is it? Their artistry is better classified as larger than life, memorable, emotional alchemy. Emmure trades perfection and finesse for impact and groove and it works for them. Emmure occupies a very unique niche in music that many Deathcore bands have vied for and they know it. “I’ve Scene God” name drops TWELVE prominent bands that will “never be god”. (For precision’s sake they are Stick To Your Guns, Stray From the Path, Attila, Fucking Wrath, Broken Teeth, Knocked Loose, Nasty, Murder Thy Art, Nails, Ice, The Crown, and Fit For A King.) 

The trajectory of the band’s musical development marks a persistent evolution that has kept them relevant for 17 years. A melting pot of furious fight riffs, a powerhouse rhythm section, vicious yet poised vocals, nuanced and masterfully implemented synth and sampling has only been sweetened with each passing album and Hindsight is no exception. 

The album’s loudest criticism I’ve yet to hear is the downplay of Emmure’s new members: guitarist, Josh Travis (of Glass Cloud and previously The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza), bassist Phil Locket (previously of The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza) and drummer Josh Miller (Glass Cloud). Sure, Hindsight does not emulate the same melodic metalcore musings as Glass Cloud or TTDTE’s furiously calculated ramblings but allow me to raise a universal argument. A musician in/from one band is capable of and free to make noise that differs from the styles that the aforementioned band is known for; whether for personal taste, career development, plain old boredom or any reason their heart desires. 

Travis, Locket and Miller had over a decade and a half of instrumental reference material when making the decision to join Emmure. The three were well aware of what they were getting themselves into and arguably concentrated Emmure’s instrumentals more than ever before with Hindsight’s release- AND IT SLAPS. Each guitar squeal, growling bassline and tumbling drumbeat contribute to a flowing stream of satiating industrial chaos. 

Producer, WZRD BLOOD, pushes Emmure past their limits with tasteful sampling and luscious production quality. Whether it’s a stuttering/flickering edit (“Informal Butterflies”), AI-inspired and news-style vocal samples (“(F)Inally (U)nderstanding (N)othing”, “Uncontrollable Descent”, “Pigs Ear”), screaming alarms and record scratches (“(F)Inally (U)nderstanding (N)othing”) or time-bomb ticking (“203”) this producer has got it in his bottomless bag of audio-goodies. What could have easily descended into an off-brand Linkin Park is instead a clever and current homage to nu-metal greats like KoRn (eg. Palmieri’s Davies-style scatting in “Thunder Mouth”). 

I like Hindsight (2020). There. I said it. As always, my editorial opinion isn’t really what matters- give the record a spin and make up your own mind. 

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