So much of what we communicate isn’t in our words, but in our tone. Sarcasm, for example, depends largely on tone. When teenage girls tell each other to “Uh, shut up!” at the mall it carries a completely different message than when the librarian hisses it at you from behind a stack of books. I bring this up because the group Emerald Sun are masters of tone and, I suspect, humour. Were we to take the lyrics to their songs and read them without context they would sound dark, disturbing, angry… all of the things our parents were afraid metal music really was. However, the presentation, the music itself, on the group’s latest album, Regeneration, is something completely different. The sound Emerald Sun shares with us is surprisingly upbeat. The group sings about entering the gates of hell, monsters and soul stealing, but it’s done with such light instrumentals and care-free vocals that they might as well be singing about Christmas elves making toys.
There are a few different ways to look at this. Some people might hear this light-n-happy approach to pain and destruction and think these people are really messed up. Others might just appreciate the contrast and consider the music balanced. Personally, I think the group has found a great way to do two things at once: write gritty metal music while presenting a feel-good sound. They’re multi-tasking, in my opinion, making people feel good while discussing serious issues.
Quite a bit of the music presented on this full length album has a distinctly 80s feel to it. You know how 80s movies tended to start out with the shots of the city, maybe our hero walking around with their hands in their jacket pockets? Then big, bright font would appear, listing credits and we’d hear some light rock song to keep us occupied until the credits were over. Much of the album has that feel to it, I can’t make it through the first track, “We Won’t Fall” without seeing those big yellow letters in my mind’s eye. Granted, Emerald Sun brings a metal flavour and metal lyrics to those upbeat 80s-sounding instrumentals, and I think they do a good job. Their vocals are smooth, their guitar work is solid and it’s hard not to enjoy the retro feel. The real star of the show though is the often-overlooked drummer. The drummer for Emerald Sun smacks his instruments like an eight-armed, speed-fueled genius-IQed chimp on his first day of freedom. It’s fast, it’s coordinated and it drives the music forward with an unmistakable force.
Probably my favourite tune of the LP is “Chasing The Wind” as it really brings all of the group’s strengths together. It’s sort of mournful, but light-hearted at the same time and everything falls into place. It feels both sad and hopeful.
The contrast between serious lyrics and bright-n-happy sound might put off some people, but I find it to be a brilliant combination. And this album is likely to appeal to those who miss the golden age of metal.
Visit Emerald Sun’s website at http://www.emeraldsun.gr
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