Sound — 2
Please say it ain't so Vagrant Records. The label, which has one of the best acts today, The Hold Steady, also has this act, Emanuel, one of the most boring and indistinctive bands in recent history. Even the band's name, which was shortened from Emanuel Nice, says please try to distinguish us from the multitude of other hard rock/emo/wimp metal/screamo bands vying unsuccessfully for your attention with first name names. Put aside the lackluster name and you're still left with a band that sounds like all of these bands that try to appeal to both the wanna-be punksters and wanna-be metalheads. Emanuel's attitude is if Fall Out Boy can do it, so can we. The problem is that Fall Out Boy, despite what you may think about them, have achieved and maintained a high level of success because they have been able to separate themselves from this lump of bands by being just a little different, both image-wise and on record. The bands, such as Emanuel, that try to share Fall Out Boy's success by imitating them only put themselves more in the lump's center. Remember back to when grunge first became popular in the early '90s because of successful records by Seattle bands Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Well, Emanuel would be Bush. Actually, that would be a compliment since those bands have at least a few decent tunes. They would be more like Candlebox, a band everyone loved to hate until Creed and Nickelback came along. Emanuel's second album, Black Earth Tiger, is apparently a big improvement over their debut album, Soundtrack to a Headrush, according to the press material Vagrant Records included with the album. I haven't heard their debut, but if Vagrant is correct, then that must be one of the worst albums of all time, judging it based on the quality of Black Earth Tiger. Black Earth Tiger captures Emanuel attempting to be both an emo and screaming metal band. Nearly every song contains a verse chorus verse structure that starts as emo for the verse and then moves on to screaming choruses by lead singer Matt Breen, followed by another emo verse. After more than a dozen listens to this repetitive structure, nothing stands out for me. In fact my favorite song on the album is the two minute Whiteflag (Intro), which begins the album. This song doesn't contain the band's trademark sound that is found throughout the rest of the album, instead it is just a short intro that slowly builds to the next song Cottonmouth.
Lyrics — 1
I feel kind of bad for the instrument players in Emanuel. They have the chops to do much better. But being behind Breen, who is the main songwriter of the band, is a huge disservice to their skills. His vocals don't add anything to the group, and his lyrics are even worse. F--k the world is the main line in My Antapex that gets repeated over and over. People hearing this uninspired angst will more likely be sympathetic to the world than Breen and his dribble. The rest of the lyrics on Black Earth Tiger are no better.
Overall Impression — 2
Based on Black Earth Tiger, Emanuel won't leave much of an impression on listeners. If the band gets another shot at recording another album, they should pick a genre, instead of two, and then diversify their sound while staying within that genre. By doing this they may gain some loyal genre fans -- the fans that provide the necessary foundation for any successful band.