My first impressions of Emissary’s self-titled EP left me a little puzzled. Normally, if I had been strolling through the annals of the internet and come across this album I would have kept clicking and been on my way. However, I decided to give the album a few listens to let it grow on me, and to my surprise, it did just that. I pray that one day I will have the chance to catch Emissary in live setting.
Since Emissary’s EP took a few listens to really fall into my favorites, I’d like to highlight what really went through my mind with each passing exposure.
During the first listen, I couldn’t help but say that if felt a little bland and lackluster. I didn’t really hear anything that held my attention and my mind kept wandering while I was trying to sit through an entire play through.
A second time through warranted certain parts of songs beginning to jump out at me and grab my attention. I noticed that certain passages or songs were actually keeping my interest and dragging my attention back to the composition. With this passing listen, I was abruptly slapped across the face by the song “Leviathan,” and can honestly say I have no idea how I missed this the first time through. Parts of this song have been brushed with Sybreed-esque vibes and really feel like the powerhouse of the EP. Another prominent composition to pay attention to is laid out in “Like Clockwork.” The dark piano sections at the beginning and halfway mark, along with the aggressive guitar work throughout this track lend way to an apocalyptic and doom-filled maelstrom that I can’t help but picture a medieval dragon-laden battle taking place during.
The third listen was when I started to notice the second guitar and ambient orchestral parts. To me, it seemed as if a lot of them were subtle and somewhat pushed into the background, but when I started to pay more attention to them I began to notice that the subtlety really tied everything together. “Harbinger” exploits the use of the second guitar overlay exceptionally well, while “Desolate” applies an ominous string-like drone that glues the rest of the instruments into their respective places.
Eureka! During the fourth play, I finally get it. Emissary is a raw, brute force. Now that I understand the approach, I could easily compare their method to bands the likes of Gojira. This album is not about layering as many sounds into a single track as possible or trying to meedly-meedly you into submission, but rather about constructing a rock solid foundation, planting their feet into the wet cement, letting it harden, and then blasting the beard stubble off your face from ground level.
The age old adage of not judging a book by its cover definitely applies to Emissary’s self-titled EP. Don’t listen to this album once and forget about it; give it some time to sink in and submerse you in the desolation that this Orange County quintet has to offer.