It’d be somewhat of an understatement to say that the past few years for Kentucky’s Emarosa have been similar to a soap opera. Following the release of their self-titled sophomore LP back in 2010, the band lost their infamous frontman Jonny Craig following well-documented dabblings with drugs, putting a huge halt to moving forward. Trying to find a new vocalist to fill his hefty shoes wasn’t an easy or quick task either, trialling the likes of Tilian Pearson (now of Dance Gavin Dance), but not really finding the right fit.
Finally settling on Bradley Walden (formerly of Squid The Whale), who originally turned down the offer, trouble was still on the horizon on the lead up to the release of album number three, with Lukas Koszewski (drummer) and Jonas Ladekjaer (guitarist) taking their leave just a few days before it dropped. However, after a four year absence, Emarosa have finally come back into the fold with ‘Versus’.
After seemingly falling into a void following the tour cycle of their self-titled, a lot of pressure and hype came hot off the heels upon the news of a new record, and lead single ‘Mad’ is a perfect transition from the Emarosa of old into new, maintaining the strong melodic post-hardcore we’ve known throughout most of their career. Walden is a fitting replacement for Craig, really showcasing his strong pipes.
Outside of this track, what we see is a new direction into alt rock that Emarosa are taking, instrumentally a little more tame than we’ve known them to be, but just as captivating. ‘I’ll Just Wait’ is a sombre number, and both ‘A Hundred Crowns’ and album closer ‘1996 On Bevard’ hold potential to bother the charts if given the right push.
With the instrumention and songwriting a little more tame than what we’ve become accustomed to from the band, ‘Versus’ is still very stereotypically an Emarosa record, and given the band’s recent history, it’s a delight to see that a release that could’ve been a completely disappointing disaster has pushed through to be nothing short of a success. Perhaps with a more stable line-up and time for the band to adjust and tighten up on their new identity path, album number four could be something really special.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)