The Stalker: Eminence Good-Naturedly Brass-Knuckle Your Ass Into the Ground
We all have our biases. To some, “black metal” implies sick necrotic brutality; to others, it’s like wrapping a record in yellow tape marked with huge stenciled letters: PASTY POSEUR ASSCANDY. (Note to self: Microsoft Word auto-spell check balks not at all at our use of “asscandy”; must put this versatile and commonly accepted word to greater use in both written and conversational situations.) You might see the word “drone” and get excited about the chilling, airless expanses you’re about to experience… or you might now be envisioning the aforementioned warning tape.
So maybe you’ll understand when I tell you that, before hearing any music from Eminence, I saw the words “Brazil” and “groove metal.” Maybe that does something for you. To me, it suggests an endless parade of modernized nü-metal chug and clamoring percussion all thundering around the unnuanced roaring of a man with a clean-trimmed, angular beard. That’s probably unfair, but it means I rarely turn to anything labeled “groove metal” expecting some kind of high-flying entertainment.
Turns out, that reflex is especially unfair to Eminence, who have more on their mind than simplifying Meshuggah for the masses. Oh, sure, there’s a bunch of modernized nü-metal chugging and unnuanced roaring, but there’s also an extraordinary amount of brooding on the quartet’s fourth full-length album since 1999. First of all, there are some truly bitchin’, soulful solos. Songs like “Unfold” and “Veins of Memories” feature (simple) clean-sung melodies, and opener “Self-Rejection” and early video release “No Code” breathe with low-volume intros before boot-stomping your teeth out. Hell, being a multiple of four on this album means you don’t get to commit any violence whatsoever – “Reverse” and “Mutation” flicker through semi-industrial atmospheres for their entire durations. All these morbid musings add a bit of flavor to The Stalker’s thirty-seven Brazilian groove metal minutes.
Yes, there are expected levels of thrashy beats, precision riff barrages, and bouncy bass thumpage. And yes, band photos reveal a pleasing collection of well-tended facial hair. Eminence aren’t out to thwart all expectation, but they do want to good-naturedly brass-knuckle your ass into the ground. Whether or not you’re on the receiving end will depend largely on how stoked you are by the above description, and how much you enjoy the early afternoon openers at metal fests all over the globe.
You can stream and download Eminence’s The Stalker for free at Metal Insider.