If you’re into screamo, you’ve doubtless heard of Emery, one of the premiere faith-influenced bands within the genre. And upon first listen to its latest effort, I’m Only a Man (Tooth & Nail), it’s no wonder why the band’s name (the namesake of a first grader that lead singer Toby Morrell met during his college years) — and, further, its music — has caught your ear.
The ideal marriage of hard rocking and melodic, Emery is undeniably enjoyable, with lyrics and music to match. Though primarily a traditional rock outfit, they’re set apart by unique touches like synth and the occasional pop song — refreshing changes from the hard rock status quo.
However, there’s more to Emery than music alone. Take the band members’ thoughts on the distinction between “Christian” bands versus bands who happen to be Christians— and the audiences that come along with both camps. “We actually dislike the term ‘Christian music’ because it totally segregates music fans, which most people are,” lead singer and bassist Toby Morrell says. “Can’t all music worship God?… We are a band who creates music for anybody who will listen,” he adds. “God is amazing, and He will call whom he will. We just want to be an instrument that He uses to show His love in our lives.”
So, despite the band’s faith in God, Emery’s songs may not ooze with religious substance, but they do have their own quiet spirituality about them. On I’m Only a Man, tracks like “The Party Song” and “After the Devil Beats His Wife” speak subtly about searching for something bigger, while other songs like “Can’t Stop the Killer” debate morality. There’s diversity here, each song an account of life lived for God, no matter how restrained.
If you’ve never encountered Emery previously, I’m Only a Man is a fine place to start. Their intelligence and musical sensibility is wholly evident and always entertaining — truly, this is a band worth watching.