Posts Tagged ‘EMBR’

4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Bandcamp Fridays have been providing a rare and unique lifeline for struggling artists, and while times are still ridiculously tight in what continue to be utterly bewildering times which have hit the music industry where it really hurts – namely grass-roots venues and the artist who depend on them – the opportunity for artists to actually make a proper revenue from sales or downloads and physical releases is a big deal.

And if one thing’s become apparent, its that artists are going all-out to create releases that offer something different for their fans, and the unexpected arrival of an EP of 90s grunge covers from U.S doom quartet Embr.

Recorded in August of this year – in an actual studio, no less – with Matt Washburn (Mastodon, Royal Thunder, Artimus Pyledriver) the EP finds the band bringing a full-blooded sludge tone and a doomy, old-school, Sabbath-esque twist to four songs by leading exponents of the grunge era – with each member of the band selecting a song for inclusion.

Confession time: I absolutely fucking loved Nirvana, and still do. Alive in Chains, I dug, but never really found any enthusiasm for Stone Temple Pilots or Soundgarden, preferring Mudhoney, and the greasy heft of Tad. Nevetheless, what’s clearly apparent from listening to these four cuts is the degree of sincere affection for the songs and the sound that’s on display here. Moreover, they’ve done a great job of selecting songs that suit their own sound, showcasing the strengths of the original songs while sounding like Embr. It’s also something of a revelation hearing songs originally sung by men delivered by a female vocalist, and again, that they’ve pitched them in Crystal Bigalow’s range is a major factor in their success.

If the half-tempo trudge of their take on ‘Heart Shaped Box’ (Crystal’s choice) takes some getting used to, its impact – as the immense power chords drive down hard and heavy – is strong. The ultra-low bass that rumbles at a crawl through the stripped-back second verse is worth the money alone, but ‘Junkhead’ is probably the heaviest track here – which is no real surprise, given that AIC were always at the most overtly metal end of the spectrum in the grunge canon.

Then again, despite the rather poppy middling rock chorus, the repetitive chord sequence of ‘Mailman’ is well suited to a sludgy trudge-along, and ultimately, Embr have done a good job, making Idolatry well worth a punt.

AA

Embr-Idolatry

EMBR are four musical kindred spirits who have delivered a crushing, yet beautiful debut album in 1823. At this point, it is worth stating that the title 1823 has special significance. It’s not just a numerical title, it has substance. Eric Bigelow (drummer) has been on the list for a kidney for around 4 years.

Eric received a kidney transplant in May of 2019. This happened right in the middle of writing the album. The kidney was from a deceased donor and all Eric and Crystal Bigelow (singer and Eric’s wife) know about the donor is that it was a young woman between the ages of 18-23. The album is dedicated to the donor and the surgeons at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville TN. And what a fine tribute it is.

Musically, 1823 could be categorized as ‘Doom’. However, on this debut it’s obvious that EMBR have range, drive and a desire to add to the genre, to broaden it whilst staying true to its core fundamentals.

Rest assured, the band have all the nuts and bolts in place. Mark Buchanan (guitar), Alan Light (bass) and Eric Bigelow (drums) keep everything tight and weighty. Massive drop-tuned guitars, chest rattling low end, pounding drums, fuzzy distortion, it’s all there. But they also add in synths, a bit of grunge and alt rock flavours.

The vocal talents of Crystal absolutely soar and strengthen the music. Her range, patterns and harmonies transport the band’s music skyward. Crystal adds soul and an air of melancholia to the musical creations. If a pointer were needed, think Mastodon meets Witch Mountain with epic sweeps and a shade of gothic drama.

The songs on 1823 are loud, brutally beautiful, aggressive, abrasive and at times atmospheric, uplifting and emotional. Welcome to the next chapter of EMBR.

Ahead of 1823, they’ve offered up ‘Where I’ve Been’ . Check the video here:

AA

EMBR