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. ~ Ned Raggett, All Music Guide
The second reissue on CD of this 1987 LP-this one's newly remastered, with two later, interesting alternate versions with fresh harmonies for bonus tracks. Embrace remains one of the best Dischord albums ever released. These post-punk emo-pioneers (when that term/style was actually worth a damn) were comprised of three-fourths of early 1980s Dischord thrash band, Faith, with the more famous Ian MacKaye replacing his brother Alec on vocals. Like so much of MacKaye's work for 23 years, his 1985 observations here lyrically confront one's identity and dares one to justify it. But even more so, it's his loud-mouthed yet pleasing voice and utter conviction that lingers; he's a one man tour-de-force, a solo Sherman's march burning a trail in each song, the summit of which is his out of character, demented, crazed laugh halfway through "No More Pain," punctuating his attempt to grab you by your shoulders, stare you down, and shake up your thinking. It's still shocking.