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Friday, November 30, 2012

Embodyment -- Hold Your Breath


The transformation continues. In the 90's, Embodyment was on the heaviest spectrum of death metal. 2000's The Narrow Scope of Things saw the band venture into more alternative waters with remarkable results. 2001's Hold Your Breath sees Embodyment drop the death metal screaming altogether, though some heavier musical elements still remain. Because of this, Hold Your Breath is an odd duck. On one hand, you've got excellent rock music with some sweet guitar riffs, and excellent, near-crooning vocals. On the other hand, you've got raw production which pushes the low end of the drums to the forefront of the mix, like a metal record. You've also got down-tuned guitars and bass, sometimes following some pretty heavy chord progressions, and a few creepy sounding songs. This again puts Embodyment in the lonely "sounds like Embodyment" spectrum. Nobody else did.
Bands that sound like they're wearing skeleton face-paint and burning down buildings don't usually transition into bands that can get played on mainstream radio, though. So while The Narrow Scope of Things sounded like a transition record, albeit a masterpiece of one, it turns out to have only been a new starting point. Hold Your Breath is the transition album, and has all the pros and cons inherent.
Thankfully, the pros heavily outweigh the cons in this case. The songs are all good, and the album flows together well throughout its thirty-six minutes. As expected from Embodyment, the vocals and instrumentation are all top notch. The minor cons are the moments the raw production needs to be smoother to enhance the more radio friendly quality of certain songs, and the moments the band gets heavy, but doesn't put a hole through the roof the way it seems they should. The result is an album that undeniably rocks hard, is fun to listen to, but inconspicuously stands out in the middle among the final trilogy of albums Embodyment released. That doesn't mean it can't be a classic.

2001 Solid State Records
1. Yours Truly 3:31
2. Belly Up 3:32
3. Decade 4:24
4. K-9 3:11
5. Set the Stage 4:32
6. Heaven in a Letter Bomb 2:38
7. A Season's End 3:38
8. Binge and Purge 2:52
9. Moving On 4:05
10. Cruise Control 3:50

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