01. Insert Coin
03. She Gave Her Heart To Deadpool
04. I Am Onslaught
05. Bison Diaries
07. Cross Over Attack
08. Umar Dumps Dormammu
09. Blackheart Reigns
11. War Begins With You
At this point in Emmure‘s career (and our ‘career’ as bloggers), reviewing an Emmure record is more or less just an exercise in patience and finding as many ways as possible to eloquently express our distaste. Morbid curiosity got the better of me, I suppose. As progressive metal fans, we go into a record like Slave to the Game with tongue firmly in cheek and expecting to despise every second. While this isn’t entirely untrue (some people will hate Emmure no matter what they do, and with valid reason), when compared to Emmure’s previous work, Slave to the Game is relatively inoffensive. Say it ain’t so!
Let’s tap the breaks for a second in case people get a reason to get angry. For their fifth album cycle, Emmure seems to have donned an image and theme revolving around video games and nerd culture in general, as slightly odd as the jump may be. While bands like Last Chance To Reason pull it off well (and I’m sure they’d have some amusing thoughts on the subject), you’d think that the tough-guy attitude and heavy sound of Emmure wouldn’t be very conducive for the imagery. When you think about it though, Emmure have had a recent penchant for throwing in a ton of weird guitar effects and electronic layers, so it isn’t that much of a stretch — as silly as it may seem, anyway.
Whether intentional or not, music and lyrics seemed to have gotten a slight increase in intelligence as well. Not by much, mind you, but Slave to the Game seems to be free of tracks as horrendously awful as ‘Drug Dealer Friend’ from their previous album Speaker of the Dead. That doesn’t stop Frankie Palmeri from continuing to be one of the worst frontmen in mainstream metal though with shallow lyrics about being tough and whatnot and dropping F-bombs like change. But then again, no one goes into an Emmure album expecting lyrical substance anyway. Why start now?
Musically, the band are pretty much on par for the course. Breakdowns around every corner and guitar effects like pitch shifters are in abundance. I can get behind overt percussive and rhythmic delivery (as in the case of death metal legends Meshuggah), but in Emmure’s case it lacks in artistic and creative depth. There’s no variance or dynamic. It’s almost non-stop breakdowns. Obviously, none of this is shocking at all, but the criticisms still stand. Luckily, the record clocks in at little over a half hour, so what would be an exhausting listen is more easily handled.
Despite Slave to the Game being everything you’d probably expect out of an Emmure record, it’s honestly executed well within its own right when compared to much of their previous body of work. I don’t know if this can be attributed to low expectations, growing used to the Emmure sound, or a legitimate increase in overall quality, but Slave to the Game is quite possibly their best release in the last few years. It goes without saying though that those with an unbridled hate for Emmure, Slave to the Game will still manage to conjure up some serious vitriol. Speaking on a slightly more universal scope, instead of being an embarrassment, Slave to the Game just manages to be boring. But hey, it’s a start.