Within the genre of heavy metal there can be an abundance of variation, color, texture and tone. There are many different shades and many different categories within that catch-all phrase. It's not all about throat ripping vocals or Neanderthal riffage.
As many who are not drawn metal's immediate charms may perceive. Heavy music can encompass a whole panoply of sounds, moods and ambition. It can surround you with emotional elegance and distressing chaos. There can be subtleness, thoughtfulness and deep introspection even when things get exceptionally heavy. This is why NHS is thrilled to unveil our latest signing. We have partnered with 4 musically kindred spirits from Birmingham, Alabama, collectively known as EMBR. EMBR tick all the boxes overhead and beyond. EMBR already have 3 mighty EP's under their belt. '261' released in 2016. '271' released in 2017 and their last EP titled 326: Spiritual Dialysis' released in 2018. All 3 got them on the heavy underground radar.
EMBR spent most of 2019 writing 7 new songs for '1823'. The album was recorded by Matt Washburn at Ledbelly Sound Studio (Mastodon, Royal Thunder) in Dawsonville Ga. The title '1823' has special significance. It's not just a numerical title, it has substance. Eric Bigelow (drummer) has been on the list for a kidney for around 4 years. Eric received a kidney transplant in May of 2019. This happened right in the middle of writing the album. The kidney was from a deceased donor and all Eric and Crystal Bigelow (singer and Eric's wife) know about the donor is that it was a young woman between the ages of 18 - 23.
The album is dedicated to the donor and the surgeons at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville TN. And what a fine tribute it is.
Musically '1823' could be categorized as 'Doom'. However, on this debut it's obvious that EMBR have range, drive and a desire to add to the genre, to broaden it whilst staying true to its core fundamentals. Rest assured, the band have all the nuts and bolts in place.
Mark Buchanan (guitar), Alan Light (bass) and Eric Bigelow (drums) keep everything tight and weighty. Massive drop-tuned guitars, chest rattling low end, pounding drums, fuzzy distortion, it's all there. But they also add in synths, a bit of grunge and alt rock flavors. The vocal talents of Crystal absolutely soar and strengthen the music. Her range, patterns and harmonies transport the band's music skyward. Crystal adds soul and an air of melancholia to the musical creations. If a pointer were needed, think Mastodon meets Witch Mountain with epic sweeps and a shade of gothic drama.
Tracks like 'Prurient' and 'Where I've Been' combine thick heavy riffs with Crystal weaving through, powerful and epic, yet soulful and intimate. Musically, the bands core vibe is keep it slow and low' but EMBR aren't afraid to mix it up a bit. 'Stranger' takes it down, allowing Crystal's voice to float over the softer elements and riffs in an almost folk-like manner. 'Powder' channels throat ripping growls and soaring clean vocals in one loping relentless journey. 'Eyes Like Knives' , 'Your Burden' and 'Vines' are epic doom fests, drenched in gothic veils and dripping with thick distortion. The lyrics are deep and are usually written collectively by Crystal and Eric with one of them sometimes taking the reins on certain songs that they identify with. For instance, Powder is a song Eric wrote about past struggles and trying to power through them with relentless determination and positivity. Prurient was written by Crystal and initially was based on the 2016 movie THE BOY but also was inspired by her past experiences with a haunting figure in her life. The songs on 1823 are loud, brutally beautiful, aggressive, abrasive and at times atmospheric, uplifting and emotional. Welcome to the next chapter of EMBR.