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Album Review

The band's one album, taken from two separate mid-'80s recording sessions, finds the fusion of Faith's instrumentalists and Minor Threat's singer — Ian MacKaye himself, older brother of Faith's singer Alex — a successful enough blast of post-hardcore. It's no surprise per se that MacKaye wanted to push himself more strongly in future; compared to Fugazi, Embrace is fine but nowhere near as gripping or inventive. As a vehicle for his righteous, cutting lyrics and strong voice, though, it's more than fine. With engineering help from the legendary Don Zientara, everything's well-recorded and produced, MacKaye clearly cutting through the heavy band crunch. Interestingly, the instruments that come through the best are Ivor Hanson's drums, a neat switch around from the usual domination via guitar. Not that Michael Hampton's work sounds weak or poor; if anything, he brings a sharp turn-of-the-'80s U.K. style to fore, with the understated inventiveness of John McGeoch's early work in Magazine and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Consider his exuberant performance on "Dance of Days," both fiery and just pretty enough. Compared to both Faith's and Minor Threat's work in general, Embrace tries for something a touch poppier and a little less immediately frenetic, like a pause for breath after a full-on rampage. MacKaye's lyrical aim dwells as much on personal concerns and a search for courage as much as anything, continuing the themes of earlier efforts as "Look Back and Laugh." "Building" revolves around self-accusations of failure, while the shimmering, reverb-touched drive of "Do Not Consider Yourself Free" urges vigilance with the realization that "there are others held captive." It's not quite the birth of emo — if anything, Rites of Spring found themselves saddled with that peculiar honor — but it's easy enough to imagine more than a few '90s bands taking the words as holy writ.

Customer Reviews

Recommend for MacKaye Worshippers

Singer/bassist/guitar player and god head Ian MacKaye founded Embrace after the break up of his seminal punk band Minor Threat. The rest of the band is made up of Ex-Members of Faith otherwise known as "that band that Alec MacKaye(Ian's brother) sang for". The music that Embrace made was not the hardcore of Minor Threat but it did have the same kind of emotion and power. Embrace were the start of something new, being argueably the first "emo" band. Embrace was a stepping stone in style and creativity that would one day fully show it's power in Fugazi. This album has some really great surprises for example "Money" "Said Gun" "Dance of Days" and "Building" but other parts of it are not as good and the ideas never fully fleshed out. I would recommend the album for fans of Ian's previous work and for those that take stock in punk rock/indie rock history. For those that are just jumping into his work would be better served if they checked out Minor Threat or Fugazi and then explored this later. This album is all about growth so take some time it'll grown on you.

Emo at its best.

To all who say this isn't emo, you have no knowledge of hardcore and the genesis of emo (a.k.a- emotional hardcore). Please, go listen to some Rites of Spring, Dag Nasty, Antioch Arrow, and Mohinder. GET LEARNED!

The birth of emo

One of Ian Mackaye's best projects. Lyrically I think this album is incredible. Musically this album is groundbreaking and way ahead of its time. Amazing how relevant this album is having come out over 20 years ago. Check out tracks; 1,2,3, to be honest the whole album is just great! in my top 5 of favorite pieces of music.


Formed: 1985

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s

Anyone who ever wondered how hardcore pioneer Ian MacKaye could make such a drastic transition from the gritty, explosive, and terse music of Minor Threat to the expansive, melodic, and unpredictable sound of Fugazi can find the answer in Embrace. Along with Rights of Spring (fronted by Fugazi co-singer Guy Piccoloto), Embrace is considered to have pioneered the emocore sound. After years of screaming with Minor Threat, MacKaye began singing melodic, introspective lines with Embrace, which kept the...
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Embrace, Embrace
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