Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Emblem – Emblem (2017) / 88%

Newfoundland's soldiers of steel

Heavy metal from Newfoundland, eh? Yes, sir and it's awesome. The debut self titled album sounds like if the maritime province is still an English territory and never entered the Canadian confederation in 1949. Their sound is basically beefed up NWOBHM and they deserve all your attention.

The main element they have that most other current heavy metal bands lack is the intricacy and attention to details of their compositions. Their songs (such as "Encased In Stone") are often long, detailed and filled to the brim with riffs and solos. What's enjoyable is that they're able to push the genre to this level without distilling it with outside influences such as progressive, thrash or doom. It's pure pummeling heavy metal from start to finish with interesting, super metal lyrics (fantasy, horror, medieval) and above average soloing from the pair of guitarists composed of Knee and Cooper.

You know a band is good at their craft when it's hard to pinpoint their influences. This means that they took their time to assimilate enough metal and create something worthwhile and not derivative. I mean, sure, you’ll hear Iron Maiden here since there’s the same love for intense and soulful soloing on Emblem but overall, this is devoid of pure particular worship towards anyone.

While the riffs are solid and all the songs are good, vocalist (and bassist) Harry Clarke is my clear highlight of this record. He reminds me of Blaze Bayley a little, not really because their voices are similar but because they’re both manly, powerful and evocative singers. I think he allows Emblem to sit at the grownups’ table, that’s just how good he is. He shines on “The Mountain Trail” where the best vocal lines on the album can be found.

With that said, the album can feel a bit bloated with those long numbers (not as bloated as modern Maiden though!) and it’s a bit samey. While I like the rich foundations of those songs, some editing could had made the album even better. A long epic song could had been enjoyable too as I'm sure they have the balls and the required skills to pull it off.

With their epic, memorable compositions without any fluff or gimmicks, Emblem should establish themselves as the best heavy metal band in Canada. Incredible debut.

No comments: