Back With a Vengeance

On August 28, 2007 indie-rock band Emanuel released their latest album, entitled Black Earth Tiger.

It is a follow up to their debut album, Soundtrack to a Headrush, which was released in March, 2005. The band took a break from touring in January and February of 2007 to hit the studios, where they recorded their new record with help from legendary producer Terry Date.
When listening to their latest work the raw energy is reminiscent of their last, but the sound and feel to Black Earth Tiger is completely different. Matthew Breen, the lead singer of Emanuel, recently discussed the new album on the band’s Myspace page, saying, “What we have is a sincere, dark record about the destruction of everything in your life, apathy and coded in messages about the end of the world.”

Although the end of the world is a major theme in Emanuel’s latest songs, Black Earth Tiger is in no way a concept album. Every track on the album has the ability to stand on its own.

The record starts off with the intro, “Whiteflag,” which in this case acts as the calm before the storm, featuring soft vocals and almost psychedelic guitar. The first full-length song, “Cottonmouth,” starts off with Breen singing gently, eventually building up to a scream that is both heartfelt and terrifying, something not all too common in this genre of music. This is clearly one of their best songs to date.

The five members of Emanuel, who hail from Louisville, continue with such songs as “Scenotaph,” which perfectly displays their growth and development as a band. The song is both darker and heavier than anything they have previously put out, featuring a strong guitar riff.

It is not a surprise that the next song, “Phobos,” already seems to be a fan favorite. It is a stellar mix of wailing vocals, wavy sound effects, and a drummer who ties it all together. At this point of the record Emanuel throws a perfect curveball with the slower and more personal song, “Let Them Die.” Its lyrics are both catchy and meaningful, and it is a well-timed break from the intensity surrounding it.

The album concludes with “Whiteflag (Reprise)” which is over seven-minutes long. For those seven minutes you will feel like you are on a rollercoaster, experiencing sounds that go from soft to hard and back again. The song goes from sensitive to vicious in the blink of an eye and is a great ending to an even greater total package.

Emanuel obviously set out to do something different with this record, and they succeeded. The album is a great listen, but also has the chance to take you on an inner journey to a very real place. Many people will be able to relate to the feelings shared in these songs.

Anyone that is into indie-rock, post-hardcore music or just looking to try something new might find a new favorite album with Black Earth Tiger.
Some albums will leave a song stuck in your head; this one will leave you with a feeling stuck in your body. As Breen has advised, “Listen to our record in dim light, and real loud.”