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Emerald - 'Master I Am' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/78/e1/2f/818_EmeraldMasterIAm_1290034035.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     November 17, 2010    
 
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A flawed debut, but one with enough about it to suggest future promise.

Emerald is the brainchild of Irish drummer and songwriter Thomas Maher. In 2006 he sought four likeminded musicians to form a band to play classic rock music. The four musicians who joined at that time came from Italy, France, Britain and Brazil: Alessandro Lofoco (bass), Yoann Claude and Ashley Cooper (guitars) and Yvan Silva (vocals), and following extensive gigging around the globe recorded ‘Master I Am’. However, I note that Lofoco and Claude have now gone and Ben Groves (bass) and Keith Hawkins (guitars) have joined the band.

I have on many occasions sat and pondered the question “what, exactly, is classic rock?” (or “rock in the vintage style” as alternatively defined by Emerald). I have decided that it can be one of three things; so it’s either (a) rock played by the bands that emerged in the late 60s and into the 70s; or it’s (b) rock played by bands that encompass the feel and the spirit of the bands in (a) and might even incorporate characteristics that make one think of particular bands; or it’s (c) rock that has no hint of anything modern (say post-1985) in it. You may have an alternative answer or definition, and actually, I don’t really care as long as the music is at least “good”. Well, being formed in 2006, Emerald is not possible of being amongst the bands in (a) and because the music on the album seems to intentionally “blend the borders of modern rock with a classic guitar sound” we are obviously in (b) territory. But, as I say, I don’t mind so long as the music is okay.

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And this album is more than “okay” and some of it is even better than “good”. It’s even a jolly enjoyable listen for the most part and the guitar sound is generally a highlight whenever a solo appears (and there are many!). However, Yvan Silva does not have one of the greatest vocal ranges and I do feel that he struggles with some of the material, and this is occasionally something of a distraction. If you can get past that and focus on listening for the blatant imitations, then you will discover early period Black Sabbath in ‘Freedom Of Desire’ and ‘Live Forever’, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ in the title track and a large nod in the direction of Thin Lizzy (‘Make It Alone’).

To these ears, the pick of the tracks (and there are eight of them, together clocking in at just over the forty minute mark) comprise the first half of the album. Unfortunately the penultimate track is a cringeworthy piano-drenched ballad (‘Broken’) and this almost qualifies as “loungecore”. Therefore ‘Master I Am’ is chalked up as a flawed debut, but one with enough about it to suggest future promise.

Paul Jerome Smith

Purchase the album from www.emeraldrock.net

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