Various Artists – Emo Diaries Chapter 5: I Guess This is Goodbye

Various Artists
Emo Diaries Chapter 5: I Guess This is Goodbye

As anyone who reads my reviews regularly knows, I’m not one of those people who are opposed to the word “emo” or its classification as a genre of music. In fact, the first two volumes in Deep Elm’s Emo Diaries series were instrumental in introducing me to the style and so many excellent bands. I would say those two compilations are still some of my favorite albums.
Many people have criticized bands for prolonging the style of emo as classified on those first two volumes without changing things, but there are a number of bands that continue to make creative, powerful, emotional rock with a very unique sound. Deep Elm has attempted to stay on top of the style with their next two volumes, and while they introduced a number of unique and amazing bands, they did have their flaws. The main problem with the next two volumes in the series that I saw was that they kept the course. While my music tastes expanded into the quieter, more lovely sounds as well as the louder, more passionate and hardcore sounds, I felt the Emo Diaries were keeping a midpoint of post-punk style rock.
That being said, Chapter Five is probably the best in this series since the second volume. Instead of containing 12 similar bands, this volume pushes the envelope. This is emo in its traditional and more well-known style as well as styles focused on math-rock, post-rock, hardcore, and other sounds. And that’s why these songs are so good, so impressive together. Even better, all but a few of these bands were unknown to me.
The White Octave contribute one of their unique blends of indie rock, math rock, and disjointed noise. Slowride’s “Daydreams of a Future” is one of those Get Up Kids style post-punk rocking tracks with lots of driving guitar and melody. Reubens Accomplice is one of my favorite new bands here, although they may take math-rock a bit too far as they sing “calculus, geometry, calculus, geometry.” But the remaining of the song is light-hearted and yet complex. The Walt Lariat’s “6:00am in Cartona” is a pretty and very melodic instrumental that doesn’t do anything really unique but is quite nice.
The UK’s Sunfactor has an older Braid-like sound combined with a nice sense of melody and precision. Their song, “Frostbite,” is another of the gems on this release. Eniac’s “I’ll Never Get Home” shows the softer, calmer side of emo, lead by a steady drum beat and soft, almost hushed vocals. But it does take off about halfway through, reminding me of bands like Penfold. Benji has a more straight-forward rock song here, and it seems a little out of place until, about halfway through, another singer starts shouting in the background. The dichotomy of slower and lighter rock with the shouting is a nice touch. It’s followed by Kerith Ravine who remind me of the softer side of Jejune, with a female vocalist and some fantastic guitar. The use of a male vocalist partway through really adds a nice flare and intensity to this track. “I stumble into your gravity / Carry me, carry me,” the female singer almost whispers.
Cast Aside’s “Racecar Theory” is my favorite track here. Starting off quiet and pretty with a female vocalist, suddenly a male singer starts screaming as the sound intensifies. The two rip out alternating shouted/screamed vocals, interspersed with very moody, powerful spoken parts. This track is just so damn cool. Billy’s “Accentuate” starts off softer and explodes with driving guitars and powerful rhythm, reminding me a bit of a less aggressive Cross My Heart. The Others have a female-driven power-rock song that would remind me more of Sleater Kinney if the guitars weren’t so melodic. And finally, The End of Julia finish things off with a more atmospheric track with more melodic guitars and a great sense of mood.
Deep Elm always manages to pull together some great bands for this series. But this time around, the batch is probably the most diverse we’ve heard since their first two volumes. Powerful and hardcore-powered songs mix with more mellow and quieter songs, and the Get Up Kids style of post-punk emo is barely touched upon. It’s a great group of songs that really showcase the style that is emo.