One of the great debates of recent times is what constitutes “emo”. It originated from “emotional hardcore” according to the oracle of wisdom that is Wikipedia, and if there was an album and a band that stuck true to this it would be Plate Six with Battle Hymns for a New Republic.
From the album title you can possibly guess at what they’re going to sound like and you wouldn’t be far wrong. The crunching guitar riffs, thumping drums and harsh, half yelled vocals screaming out at you. What’s slightly different here is their attention to detail, their riffs aren’t predictable; they duck, dive and weave their way around the vocals, dueling as on The Unmoved Mover, running similar paths until they veer off into completely different directions. Opening track As The Pinson Turns is a classic slice of emo rock, the music builds and builds from its gentle beginnings until it turns into a dark and hulking beast. The problem with this record lies in its similarity. By the time you get to the ten minute finale, Maximalist Anthem, you’re left a weary, tired and emotional drained from the assault on your senses. There’s only so much tub-thumping drums and clever guitar riffs you can take before you’re left wanting something a little lighter. Hymn of the Majuscule is a more ponderous turn, the intricate guitars lead a more simplistic rhythm section, the appearance of a tambourine might hint at something a little lighter under the surface, but it’s only an instrumental interlude before things darken with Losed. It’s admirable to see them infusing some political agenda behind these songs, it’s not just whining men complaining about lack of lady action, and it doesn’t come off as preachy either. These guys obvious believe in what they’re singing, calling out for revolution to end the current injustices, but trying to convert the mainstream might be difficult.
Whilst it’s great to see intelligent music coming from this genre it’s perhaps a little too clever for its own good. Trying to say too much – a call to arms that the average listener won’t be able to sit through. There are some high points, but there’s nothing truly exceptional here that sets this out ahead, of what’s becoming, a very crowded field.