When is an emo band not just an emo band? That’s the question I had when I finished ‘Death is a Warm Blanket’ – the new album from Microwave. For an album with a wall of sound that explodes into rage and anger over and over again – it felt like that term didn’t really cover how wide-ranging and interesting the music is.
Microwave may scream a bit and they certainly are dissatisfied with the world. World-weary lyrics and beaten down anthems permeate the entire record from beginning to end. Where Microwave differ from a lot of emo/screamo bands (and Microwave aren’t screamo for more than a few seconds per song) is that they understand cadence.
Over half the tracks on the album have a very different verse energy to their chorus energy. For ‘Leather Daddy’ its broken Americana. For ‘Float to the Top’ its T-Rex psychedelia. For ‘Carry’ and ‘Part of It’ it is more of an anthemic rock sound. Each track starts out in one place for the verses and then explodes into a wall of rage for the chorus. The guitars are thick and sludgy and the vocals are elevated, angst-ridden and despondent. Occasionally Microwave boils over (pun vaguely intended) into a scream of rage and then all will dial back again. It’s not that Microwave makes you work for the anthem riffs – its that they understand you can’t just be one-note pissed off all album long.
This works perfectly to the band and the album’s advantage as they can play around with this song mechanic. When they are more full-on like with ‘DIAWB’, they play with darker guitar twangs to give variations on the sound. ‘Pull’ and ‘The Brakekman Has Resigned’ play with increasing momentum. Both songs start out minimalistic and quieter and then sizzle into a frenzy by the end. It keeps you on your toes and rewards you as a listener.
Lyrically Microwave are clearly annoyed at the world. There is a fatalistic view running throughout but at times they allude to feeling like that’s the only role they can play. ‘If the shoe fits then the shoe fits, it is effortless falling backwards’ is a quote from ‘Love’s Will Tear Us Apart’ and whilst it may be about love, it struck a chord with their world view too. We play the role of minions sometimes without meaning too.
What no one can deny is how good Microwave can bang out an anthemic chord pattern though. Many of the tracks on ‘Death is a Warm Blanket’ have a 3 or 4 chord basis that the song moves around and it really brings me back to the halcyon earlier days of expressive emo rock music. Microwave go above beyond that simple genre though and for that, they utterly deserve your attention.
Recommended track: Carry
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