Embracer

My Father's Will EP

Written by: TL on 27/11/2014 19:01:22

These days, when you encounter a new band with the post-hardcore term stuck to them, there tends to be two options that are way more prevalent than the term actually being technically accurate: Either the band is really metalcore, or perhaps more aptly "mallcore" - A marketable sandwich of breakdowns and clean choruses that has little to do with hardcore and less with being post-anything - Or else the band is probably not anycore at all, they probably just play a brand of melodic rock full of urgency that they can't really categorize in any particularly satisfying way.

Fortunately for everyone, Embracer from West Virginia is the latter type of band, judging from their new EP "My Father's Will" from earlier this month. On here the group displays a cinematic rock sound, where guitars are more concerned with ambient soundscaping than traditional riff-craft, the result being quite similar to what some may know from the similar, but more accomplished My Epic, or from underground heroes Thrice, whose twangy explorations also figure as a likely influence for the work on this EP. In the middle of this sound sits a voice that sounds like Jonny Craig with a conscience, happily straining high notes with raspy edges in a way you occasionally think could be used for evil (see: r&b), yet doing so in a more measured way, foregoing Craig's often over-expressive pathos in favour of a more mature, narrative style.

There are five tracks on offer, starting with the soulful "A Man Without Country", which ironically sounds like a soul singer confessing on top of a dusty, tempered, Western-ish soundscape, and the story about the forsaken, alcoholic father engages you easily, thriving on a nice dynamic in the middle, where instruments not only drop away entirely, but the vocal recording is left extra raw to underscore that the singing is left alone in this part, making for more of a kick when the band comes back in. "Downtrodden" sees singer/guitarist Jordan Bradley at his most Craig-ish, which could be off-putting to some, but there's a nice sense of restraint and humility in how the vocals surrender to a post-rock style crescendo about halfway through, and the inclusion of an (almost) all-instrumental, Tides Of Man-esque centrepiece in "My Sons My Brothers", shows beyond questioning that this is not an exclusive Bradley vocal show.

Bradley does return for what it's safe to assume by now are more typical Embracer songs in "Anastasia" and "My Father's Will", but the point has been made that the group goes for a very wholesome and tasteful sound, and the two closing tracks only emphasize what ends up the verdict on this EP: Embracer know what they're doing, in the instantly recognisable way where you can hear they have the format to rule out any amateurism in their songwriting and recording process. That said, they have yet to develop a fully striking impression, and are mainly held back by a lacking explosiveness in their sound, particularly due to the often stately pace they keep to. As such "Anastasia" highlights the release with some surprising rhythms and the nice leap to the belted "I want to feel grace!", also exhibiting the religious undertones the record does include, yet keeps in balance with the actual father/son relationship of the opening track for instance.

A good stepping stone then, and if you live near the group's touring circuit it seems worthwhile to investigate how they convey their sound live. If not, consider looking out for them online, just to see if they strike more sparks with releases to come.

7

Download: Anastasia, A Man Without Country
For The Fans Of: My Epic, Thrice, Jonny Craig, Wolves & Machines
Listen: facebook.com/EMBRACER

Release date 04.11.2014
Imminence Records

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