Review / EMBR – 1823

The follow up to impressive EPs 261 and 271, EMBR‘s debut full-length, 1823, finds the Birmingham, Alabama band hitting the ground running with their ambitious take on the doom genre and indeed all things heavy metal in general. The album is named after the age bracket 18 to 23, that drummer Eric Bigelow was given for an unknown woman whose kidney he received in a transplant in the midst of writing the album; an amazing way to pay tribute to an unknown person who ultimately helped him during his illness.

Opener ‘Prurient’ starts off with some crushingly heavy riffs, hugely downtuned guitars and drums that pummel you into submission – a real statement of intent. What really tops things off though, is the introduction to the magnificent vocals of Crystal Bigelow – soaring, soulful and passionate, they really add a new dimension to each song, bringing a stunning juxtaposition to the band’s doom-laden, stomp and destroy sound.

The thunder eases off slightly on the third track, the swaying, hypnotic ‘Stranger’, but this, like other later tracks, adds to the overall musical experience, bringing the listener closer to the music and topics at hand. ‘Your Burden’ introduces itself with some eerie snarls before a creeping bassline enters carrying the song along on a head-nodding groove, while closer ‘Vines’ sees Crystal showing off her death-doom vocal credentials with aplomb. The length of many songs in the doom category can last well into double figures, not so here; the band are crafting their sound so that the songs don’t outstay their welcome and play an effective part of the whole album. A promising debut from EMBR, successfully combining doom, sludge and classic metal, which definitely warrants more than a few listens.

1823 is out on July 17th on New Heavy Sounds. Order here.

Words: Scott Crawford