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Emma-O - Mechanical

Emma-O – CD Review




CD Info
Death Thrash Metal
10 Tracks
English Lyrics

Audrey Berset has won her place in my dark pantheon of divine female vocalists. She has the charisma and presence of the other elite vocalists in my harsh metal temple. With those attributes and her terrific versatility as a singer she is more than worthy of gracing the top floor alongside Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz, both of Arch Enemy, and Vicky Psarakis of The Agonist. I deeply love those three women. I love Audrey too. I could easily listen to any of them all day.

It’ll be a while before I can set aside an Audrey Berset day. She will have to do a lot more recording for that to happen, since Mechanical is Emma-O’s debut album. Until Emma-O’s next release – may it be soon, please! – I’ll have to get the albums by two different kinds of metal bands, Noien and Fake Messiah, where she was the vocalist before joining Emma-O.

Audrey is expert at all three main types of growling and lovely in two other vocal styles. She does higher-pitched metal screaming without sounding demented, as some vocalists tend to do. Her mid-range growling spans more notes than you’ll usually hear in dark vocals. She may be small in stature but her deep false-chord gutturals shake the plaster off the walls in my office. In clean singing she has an effective, breathy, almost whispered, Gothic-type voice as well as a raspy contralto. Most of the time she does the growling to keep in harmony with the mid-range of the down-tuned instruments.

If you think I’m going on a bit about Audrey, please understand that her vocals sweep me away. This album track, “The Way of Happiness”, shows off how melodic she and the band are.

The musicians in the band for Mechanical are Eddy Bruet and Philippe Maris on guitars, Valentin Magnenat on bass, and Franky Constanza on drums (Jey replaced Franky in April this year). Their blend of death and thrash is hypnotically good, often because they resort to the simple but mighty device of pumping out long sequences of riffs on a single note while Audrey’s voice looms above the guitars or dips below them. The guitar solos are brief but superb, with some key changes but mainly staying in the mid-range. The bass seldom rises high up the scale. It doesn’t need to. It generates just the right mood of foreboding and darkness to match the rest of the music.

For a full-on, in-your-face track from the album, try “They’re Coming from Nowhere”.

Franky the drummer deserves an extra-special mention for his memorable contribution on Mechanical. Since all of the compositions mix death with thrash, he isn’t tied to variations of the characteristic death blast-beats. This allows him to be one of the most pleasingly inventive drummers I’ve heard in quite a while. Full credit to the band for allowing him such free reign. In exchange he and Valentin the bassist both give excellent performances without letting the rhythm section dominate.

The production on this album is great too. If the sound is this balanced and smooth in Emma-O’s live shows, I’d dearly love to be there.

The band caught my attention more than half a year after the release of Mechanical late in 2014. Thanks goodness I found their music. My library would have been poorer without them. Now I want more from Emma-O, please.

Rating: 9.5/10.

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