Label: Dog Knights Productions
There’s a tendency amongst some music fans to characterise emo as being at the “nice” end of the punk spectrum. Whether this comes from prejudice, ignorance, or simply inexperience, it’s a view that quickly crumples under scrutiny (to pick just one example, that Honeywell LP is one of the nastiest guitar-based records I’ve ever heard). Given the post-rock influence that runs strongly through Epicureans, there might be a temptation to paint the new LP by Singapore’s Yumi as being on the “nice” side of things, but such a view would be way, way off the mark. Strongly reminiscent of the early recordings by Japanese band Envy, this is emo that may have moments of beauty, but it is also full of anxiety and aggression. It’s not exactly a relaxing listen, but it certainly is a rewarding one, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve barely listened to anything else since receiving my download of it.
The most obvious point of this harshness is the vocals. Mimi’s tortured screams and shouts would not sound too out of place on a black metal record (admittedly, the more adventurous kind), and they add an anxious, desperate edge to the music even when it is relatively sedate. Likewise, much of the music has real bite to it, with opening track “Mountains” demonstrating from the off that the band know how to make the typical emo octave chord sound come across as heavy and powerful, before shifting gears in to more post-rock, almost jazzy territories. Meanwhile, tracks such as “HH” and “Swarm of Wasps” are excellent studies in just how oppressive and tense this style of music can be, conjuring up very strong atmospheres.
There are still moments of relative beauty though, and the band capture the grace of post-rock very well in tracks such as “Dissipate”, which slows to an almost doom-esque crawl towards its conclusion, and closer “Sound Of Feeling” features spacious moments that come across as cleansing and hopeful, especially during the second half of the song. It’s a wonderfully effective contrast when compared with what has preceded it, and makes it clear that Yumi are a highly talented band, producing some very exciting music. Indeed, whilst the Envy comparison is impossible to ignore, there are also plenty of moments when Epicureans makes me think of a less metal, more punk version of Deafheaven. As such a comparison might suggest, it comes very highly recommended.