Emanuel - Black Earth Tiger (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Black Earth Tiger (2007)


Emanuel will unfortunately have to suffer at the hands of another semi-panning, as much as Black Earth Tiger is an admitted improvement on their ill-advised Bronx / Senses Fail mashup for a debut, Soundtrack to a Headrush, it's still a terribly average and slightly unfocused effort.

With Black Earth Tiger, Emanuel take a little less from modern nü-screamo and more from `90s nü-shoegaze / space rock (just look at the foreshadowing artwork). This is evident with opener "Whiteflag," a fairly middling number that finds Matt Breen attempting to sound dark and depressed singing over low-end, droning guitars, but he just comes off nasally and a little whiny. Other songs that find Emanuel going all out on this new style tend to just be relatively boring ("Whiteflag"'s reprise, f.e.). Traits of their former self come in something like "Cottonmouth," where Breen occasionally screams his head off and the song seems to combine the old and new Emanuel; just call them Senses Failure.

They tend to do this for the majority of Black Earth Tiger, but one can tell they're taking great strides in trying to leave behind their scene-mates and evolve into a "rock" band. I bet this is something they allude to in interviews, too, but I can't really blame them if it's the case. However, it still feels like a transition record, with all their spacey atmospheres and thuddingly heavy guitars continuously broken up by elder tricks or even the occasional spate of bad Glassjaw impersonating ("Scenotaph") coupled with embarrassing songwriting ("spread your legs / and fuck the world / this is war / this town's a virus / and you're a whore").

If Emanuel actually wants to be a second-rate Deftones, I say go for it. There are a couple really promising moments on Black Earth Tiger that prove they could actually be well-suited for that territory, but I guess old habits don't always die hard.

My Antapex

Cottonmouth [MP4]