Arizona, it's not the first place I think of for heavy metal, particulraly of the classic heavy metal variety. Stoner rock. Desert Rock. Some such stuff. Maybe drift a little east and pick up some Texas blues and boogie. But Emerald, essentially Jeff Melin (guitar and vocals) and Duane Hollis (bass and vocals), are kicking it old school with their heavy metal.
The started nearly 30 years ago. It appears, from some research, they never got to far. But since 2014, it's a different story. This year's The Harvest is their second album. And what to say about it. Well, for one thing, it gets off to a very good start. With some very awesome guitar-driven classic heavy metal. It's early Eighties deja vu. And Jeff Melin is not slouch on the six-string; he can wail on that guitar. He's got some solid hard rock and heavy metal riffs, chops, and leads. A real focal point of the album. Additionally, being "true metal," their sound is not without harmony, melody, and basic groove. Actually, for harmony, Emerald and Melin make it seem like there's an additional guitar for that classic twin guitar harmony. That, my friends, is some skill. And it makes this album worth the spin and the time to spin. Yet ...
Here's the dilemma, or maybe two. One, this album is long. Yeah. I get it. Give the people want they want. But about half way in things started to drag. Whether by tempo or repeition, things seemed redundant, expected. Again, it's not to say that Emerald can't rock their trad metal with the best. But, being from the Eighties, they probably should have thought in the context of vinyl, reduce the offering to under 45 minutes. Having said that, listening to Midnight Moon, the longest track, Emerald soldiers ahead with a mixed tempo epic filled with Melin's licks and Hollis' steady bass. Alternatively, Emerald is not without some surprises, some experimentation possibly, as with Thousand Faces. It's a lighter number, vocals more present, but seemingly deliberately muted with Melin's more intricate guitar work.
To whittle this down, I'm by no means ADD or some idiot teen who lives moment by moment by some 144 text, but there's much to consider here. Mostly, it's all fine, especially Melin guitar work (not to slight other players). But something more compact would have been better, shave some tunes, save them for another album. Like always, that's just my opinion. But for the American side of the rich and vibrant history of classic melodic "keep it true" heavy metal, Emerald is dead on target. Check them out.
For the American side of the rich and vibrant history of classic melodic "keep it true" heavy metal, Emerald is dead on target. Check them out.
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