Sunday, November 30, 2014

Empathy - "I Need"

This is far and away the best release by southeastern Michigan's Empathy. It came out in early 1996 as a split release between Cascade Records, which was operated by Nate Miller of Empathy, and everyone's favorite record label to hate on (then and now), Conquer The World. Look, say what you will about Mike Warden's questionable business ethics and whatnot, dude certainly released some awesome records. And some terrible ones. I don't know him personally so I can't really comment, but I've been told by bands who were once associated with the label that it was not a good situation to be in. I'm digressing here, that's enough of that.

The first time I listened this disc, when it was over I immediately pressed play and listened to these six songs all over again. Powerful, emotional hardcore with melodic sensibilities that is reminiscent of similar bands that were active around the same time, specifically Ontario's Shoulder and fellow Michiganites (Michiganians?) Ordination Of Aaron. The music here is relatively aggressive, rockin' emo hardcore, and is frankly pretty fucking fantastic. The vocals may have taken me a minute to get into, but once I "got it", I loved it. They are mostly of the "yelled" variety, but are sometimes spoken or whispered, and they give off a real pleading feeling, if that makes sense. The songs on "I Need" are better than the band's earlier efforts, as is the recording quality, making this perhaps my favorite record to come from The Wolverine State. That's certainly saying something. Members of Empathy either played in or went on to play in Elliott, Thoughts Of Ionesco, Mainspring, Chelsea's Gone Under, By The Grace Of God, and others. Empathy makes the (relatively short) list of bands that I never saw live but wish that I did. The songs that appear here were recorded during the fall months of 1995.

-and it killed to know you never asked-

1) Weathered
2) Penance
3) The Empty Sound Of Footsteps Walking Away
4) Black Eyes For Sale
5) Encaustic
6) 07.20

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