Album Review :
Emery - You Were Never Alone

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Never alone

Label: Bad Christian
Release: 5.19.15
Tracklisting:

  1. Rock, Pebble, Stone
  2. Thrash
  3. Hard Times
  4. The Beginning
  5. The Less You Way
  6. Pink Slip
  7. To the Deep
  8. What’s Stopping You
  9. Go Wrong Young Man
  10. Taken for a Bath
  11. Salvatore Wryhta
  12. Alone

When Emery comes to mind, I often hearken back to the days when I first discovered the band. Sitting in my living room, a teenage version of me would browse PureVolume for hours looking for any band with free downloads, and eagerly check out said band (Especially if screaming was involved in the music).

A scenario as mentioned above is what led me to Emery. The band had just put out The Weak’s End recently and had their hit tracks Walls and The Ponytail Parades still available. With utmost haste, I downloaded the tracks and uploaded them to my iPod Nano. For the next several months I continually jammed those two songs with my best friends, as in our teenage angst, we really connected with the songs and felt we identified with them.

Ever since that first album, I have been a huge Emery supporter. Needless to say, when the band launched their IndieGoGo campaign after parting ways with Tooth & Nail, I dropped some money on the cause without a second thought.

While, to no fault of the band, the album was continually pushed back, I began to lose excitement about Emery’s newest album, You Were Never Alone. Don’t get me wrong, I knew the album would be great when it came out, but the lack of a set release date put the release out of mind.

However, once I got the album in my hands, the excitement of new Emery came rushing back in full force. Upon my first listen to “You Were Never Alone”, I felt like I was discovering the band for the first time all over again.

The band’s sixth full length album stylistically spans Emery’s long and spectacular career. Songs like “The Beginning” hearken back to the sound found on I’m Only a Man with prominent bass lines and angelic dueling vocals, while “Thrash” brings to mind offerings from the late, We Do What We Want with dischords and blast beats.

“Rock, Pebble, Stone” had me a bit scared with the band mentioning prior to the release of the album that the opener would be absent of screams or even distorted guitars. However, all that worry was soon washed away as Devin Shelton and Toby Morrell were united in vocal harmony for the first time in years. And while the sound was something different from what one might expect of Emery, the tweak in style makes for a more mature sound as if the band never missed a stride.

My personal favorite cut off the record is “The Less You Say”. The track in and of itself feels like a highlight reel of Emery’s career sounding like every progression the band has ever traversed. The rhythm led verses really stood out to me as being a strong suit of this jam.

“Pink Slip” and “To the Deep” showcase the vocal harmonies and driving choruses die-hard fans of Emery live for. The back to back duo of rock anthems will have any old school Emery fanatic rejoicing, all the while drawing in new fans and the Shelton / Morrell trade off dynamic is full effect (Particularly in the latter of the two songs).

The oddball of the album is “Go West Wrong Man”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean oddball in a bad way. The track treads completely new territory for the seasoned group. From the “La La La’s” in the pre-chorus to the drum led chanted bridge, this track keeps things from getting anywhere near stale towards the end of the album.

Upon first hearing the demo track of “Taken for a Bath”, I was not too optimistic. Sure, the song was classic Emery with keys and tons of tempo changes, but something just didn’t click. The finished version, however, adds several new layers that reveal themselves with each listen. I’m still finding new harmonies and keyboard parts with each listen. On top of the surprise of each listen, the track contains one of my favorite bridge sections on the album.

The only real misstep I found with the album was the closer, “Alone”. While the track has some cool moments including an awesome chord progression and subtle tapping, I felt that the track was over much too soon. You Were Never Alone is much to enormous of an album to have a closer clocking in at under three minutes.

Overall: While there will always be those people who refuse to move on with Emery and hang on to their more vintage stylings, I believe that You Were Never Alone is the most robust and fully rounded album the band have offered to date. With the small qualm of the album closer being a little bit of a let down, I thoroughly believe that Emery have created an album that will forever be cemented as a landmark album in their catalogue.

RIYL: Thrice | The Classic Crime | Silverstein

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