Label: Victory Records
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Emmure is back with their latest release and fifth album under the Victory Records label, Slave to the Game. There was one change in the line-up of the band, and that was the addition of Mark Castillo behind the kit. Emmure is rounded out by longtime members Jesse Ketive (guitar), Frankie Palmeri (vocals), Mark Davis (bass), and since 2009, Mike Mulholland (guitar). It was interesting to see a drummer go from Bury Your Dead to Crossfade to Emmure. An interesting array of jobs, but that’s about the most interesting footnote in this album. Castillo, though a versatile drummer, isn’t used to his full ability on any of the tracks, and in some tracks is mixed quite low against the guitars.
Emmure does not do much to develop or invigorate their sound, except playing with electronics and samples on this go around. Even when actually done, it’s only for a short time and everything is back on schedule for the breakdown carousel with very few departures. One of those is “MDMA”, which has a clean and clear mix of all the instruments. Without a doubt, it has the best tone of any song on the album. However, it suffers from gross repetition of lyrical content and comes across inadequate at best.
The bulk of songs starting with “Protoman”, “She Gave Her Heart to Deadpool”, “I Am Onslaught”, and “Bison Diaries” have that open E string sound, where not much is done differently. Songs begin in breakdowns, are bridged with breakdowns, and wind down in breakdowns. Doing so, it all bleeds together and you could literally splice portions of each different song on the album, save for “MDMA” and the ambient intro to make a single “Slave to the Game” track and save 30 extra minutes.
Overall, it is not an improvement or a deficiency of their sound and it satisfies a portion of their recording agreement.