ALBUM REVIEW: EMBR – Idolatry

Release Date: December 4th 2020
Label: Unsigned
Website: www.embrrockband.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/embrband
Twitter: www.twitter.com/embr_rock_band

Rating:

This past summer’s exceptional debut full-length, ‘1823’, announced the arrival of a fiendishly clever group of genre-benders hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, not the West Midlands. EMBR subtly fuse elements of doom metal and grunge in a manner that’s potent and engaging, yet warmly familiar.

Capitalising on this momentum, their ‘Idolatry’ EP, if you hadn’t gotten the hint, is a covers project, fitted with a self-aware title similar to The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s ‘Plagiarism’ EP.

The selection of cuts are all grunge anthems from arguably four of the biggest groups of all time, with the obvious exception of Pearl Jam.

The opening rendition of Stone Temple Pilots‘Down’ is an impressive, faithful tribute teeming with bravado, crunchy riffage, and a remarkable performance from the band’s secret weapon, vocalist Crystal Bigelow. Elevating the recordings from standard covers fare to a thoroughly endearing and impassioned collection of adaptations, her passion and fondness for the source material is evident throughout with a sultry, menacing presence.

‘Heart-Shaped Box’ might seem a little on the nose upon first glance, but once it begins its slow crawl from an ethereal hum to a mammoth, doom-grunge crescendo, there’s no denying the expert precision and regard the band exude, remaining faithful while managing to instil some form of fresh interpretation and rejuvenation. The shrill shrieks toward the track’s back half are a totally justified aggressive expansion on a classic, and should definitely be considered one of the strongest versions of the Nirvana hit to date, as there’s been quite a few.

‘Junkhead’ (Alice In Chains) and ‘Mailman’ (Soundgarden) may both teeter more on the faithful side of the spectrum but with a robustness and venom parallel to the originals, they ferociously groove and thrust with such natural flow. There’s no sense of force or strain that can often mar unnatural sounding cover versions.

As a small insight into influences and idols (assuming that’s what they were going for), EMBR have dropped a savvy collection of carefully crafted tributes chosen with care, highlighting their clear strengths, affinity with the grunge genre and, arguably, one of the best covers EPs from a modern band in a minute.