Review Summary: Impossible to put your finger on
You know, I’ve always been a fan of noisy, heavy music. I’m not gonna lie; nothing tickles my fancy more than putting on a classic sludge album from the 90s and just going completely nuts. The sound of deafening feedback and subwoofer killing metal riffs are quite possibly two of the greatest things I know of. But that doesn’t mean that I want all my metal to be primal and disgusting – far from it. As much as I enjoy the ridiculous volume and pure sonic terror of your average Iron Monkey song
, I’m also a very big fan of avant-garde metal. Especially metal that specifically tries to push the envelope instead of just adding pointless genres on top of one another to create a giant, confusing mess of stylistic tendencies that don’t really fit together all that well. Luckily, metal has been blessed with some incredibly good, genre-bending bands over the past few years. We all remember post-metal. It was a monumental movement of sludge metal bands that tried creating the very antithesis to their own sound – calm and melody – and putting that sound into the very same context as their violent, distorted music. It worked to great effect and made many of us reconsider what we actually think of when we say ‘metal
’. Another experimental trend popped up a couple of years ago. Post-black metal (or blackgaze) is doing the same thing for black metal that post-metal did for the heavier, doomy genres. It takes a well-known sound we’re all familiar with and puts the sound into a context that would be its very antithesis. The result is one of the most interesting musical movements of this century – one that could very well lead to great things.
However, the thing that makes these movements and sounds interesting isn’t the fact that they’re combining calm and chaos; heavy and light; noise and serene. It’s the fact that they’re pushing metal into new territory; territory that could very well lead to the formation of new genres, new scenes and an entirely new fanbase for a completely new musical movement.
Meet East Of The Wall
- an experimental, progressive metal band that seems to like doing lots of different things at the same time. Upon first listen, you might just write this off as yet another
metal band trying to do their own thing and, ironically, ending up sounding like everybody else. That’s okay. So did I. But I quickly realized I was wrong. For you see, this band is no
t just your typical band. That much is clear from the very first track, Naif
, which starts the album out in a chaotic fashion with deafening feedback and a gargantuan
sludge riff summoned from the depths of NOLA. It’s loud. It’s aggressive. It’s noisy. But it’s not without a certain outlandish quality that is impossible to put your finger on.
That’s a quick way to summarize the entire album actually. “Impossible to put your finger on”
. It’s not that there is anything on this album that you haven’t heard before (‘cause there isn’t) – but you have never heard it this
way. The band manages to create an intriguing sound that mixes together a whole bunch of different genres – metal as well as non-metal – and they do it with such confidence and proficiency that it never feels jarring to listen to. Although you never doubt for a second that their sound is clearly rooted metalcore, you’ll find yourself overjoyed listening to the progressive songwriting and technical prowess on display here. Nearly every drumfill feels just right and the album is packed to the brim with fantastic bass-lines and guitar riffs that will be stuck in your head for days after just a single listen. And despite the fact that not every single song on here is a masterpiece, it’s hard not to love an album with a song that manages to cross through three major genres of music before ending somewhere completely different from where it started – all in the span of about 8 minutes. It seems like every song on here manages to push a certain sound one way or another. There are elements of death metal mixed in with what sounds like some sort of incredibly distorted alternative rock, and yet.. it works.
That said, the album is not without its faults. Although it does play to its strengths most of the time, the constant jumps between genres can sometimes make you lose track of where this band, sonically, wants to go. It’s not like any of the transitions from metal to jazz to hardcore are jarring or annoying, but from time to time, it does sound like it could’ve used a little more time to bake. Not every guitar riff is equally convincing, and a couple of the transitional tracks could’ve easily been a couple of minutes longer to great effect. It’s great to see a progressive metal band be confident enough in their songwriting that they don’t need to write an 80 minute filler-laden album that nearly bores you to death with its sheer amount of pointlessness (I’m looking at you, Dream Theater
), but I do feel that this album would’ve been a bit stronger with just a couple more minutes of build-ups.
Despite a couple of minor annoyances, The Apologist
is an incredibly interesting album that plays to its strengths nearly flawlessly. The songwriting is great, the riffs are fantastic and in general, it’s just a joy to listen to. Fans of experimental metal and oldschool metalcore will find a lot to love here, but be wary – if you aren’t a fan of genre-bending antics and constant displays of technical prowess, East Of The Wall
will probably be a very off-putting band.