The album contains ten political cover songs, and two original songs. Of the two original songs, one of them is "Passive", a version of the song "Vacant", by the ex-group Tapeworm. The song was created by Keenan, Danny Lohner, Trent Reznor, and others for the defunct Tapeworm project. Tapeworm never released a studio version, but A Perfect Circle has played the song live since 2001. The other original song was "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums", which was originally perceived to be a remix of the song "Pet" from Thirteenth Step. Maynard James Keenan spoke about this song on aMOTION and insists that it is not a remix, but rather a second part of "Pet". The lyrical content of "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums" is similar to that in "Pet", but the delivery and staging of the vocals vary, reflecting the political tones of the album. An animated music video for this song was seen on the band's website. The album cover shows Los Angeles in an Armageddon-like state.
Upon its release, eMOTIVe received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album received an average score of 62, which indicates "generally favorable reviews", based on 12 reviews. Adam Sweeting of The Guardian gave the album a four-star review, stating: "Cover versions are often hobbled by the artist's inability to step outside the original and find a fresh perspective, but some of these treatments verge on the visionary." David Fricke of Rolling Stone labeled the album as "eccentric", while noting that the band "revisits classic protest hits, jacking up the terror by throwing out iconic arrangements and performing heretical surgery on the melodies."
Nevertheless, Rob Theakston of Allmusic was mixed in his review, stating that "eMOTIVe falls flat and fails to raise the bar set so high by the quality of their previous two releases. He also criticized the style of the album and wrote: "A Perfect Circle work their way through 12 songs that would almost be unrecognizable in their current arrangement if one weren't familiar with the original versions of each song."