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Not One of Their Better Works - 65%

FagsAreGay, May 9th, 2007

Why do many bands with such great musical beginnings ultimately change their sound? This question, as has gone through every metalheads’ mind at one time or another, always means either change for the worse, or change for the better. Embodyment’s fifth full-length, Songs for the Living, is the epitome of what happens to even the greatest of bands.

So first of all, why the change? Well, the band had been hinting it ever since acquiring Sean Corbay to take over vocal duties after their first album, Embrace the Eternal. According to an interview with the drummer, Mark Garza, the band was tired of playing in the death/grind fashion and wanted to expand their horizons and creativity. Sure, two of the three albums to follow upon recording with Corbay on vocals were, indeed, different to anything they had ever done before, and were great albums nonetheless. But if creating formulaic, typical alternative rock is Embodyment’s idea of changing for the better, they sure were misled by an ill-conceived idea, and Songs for the Living proves exactly that.

This album retains elements of alternative rock and indie rock, somewhere along the lines of Lifehouse and Switchfoot, and is the first of Embodyment’s career to feature no metal whatsoever. For the first time in Embodyment’s career as well, the 7-string guitars are no longer required to play their songs. Amazingly enough, there is a trend to be seen here (no pun intended). With the 7-string guitars no longer apparent, neither are the creative anthems once performed by this talented band. The music here seems to have been made at the mercy of the new fans being gained after every album following The Narrow Scope of Things, the first full-length featuring Corbay. Hence, perhaps it was just a matter of time before the band became this.

The vocals have improved and sound even better than before. Surely, Corbay stands out as the frontman on Songs for the Living, but a band does not revolve around a single member. Thus on the other hand, although the riffs are catchy, the interesting, exciting guitar riffs of old are nowhere to be found. The fury of Garza behind the kit is not even a shred to be observed. In fact, it sounds as if he was just tired and decided to not even try to make a decent album. The bass no longer carries the strength it once did, but it is there to uphold the catchy riffs and keep the substance (or the lack thereof).

This album never had much going for it to begin with. With so many line-up changes following every release, Embodyment had it coming when not everyone would be on the same page with one another. Not that this is such a horrible album, but there is just no real substance and does not satisfy. If anything, however, Embodyment do a much better job at this kind of music than the typical alt. rock band, and can outperform the likes of Atheneaum and Our Lady Peace any day.

The strong points on Songs for the Living are Corbay’s vocals (as already mentioned), and the album’s ending tracks, White Flag and Jaywalk, which do make the whole mood of the album more lively as opposed to the typicality of it all.

All in all, Embodyment did not perform to their full potential with this release, but manage to make somewhat entertaining alt. rock. Recommended only for true fans of the band and fans of the genre.