East of the Wall – The Apologist

East of the Wall

The Apologist

01. Naif
02. Linear Failure
03. My Favorite Society Guy
04. False Build
05. Precious Memories
06. The Apologist
07. Running Tab Of Sweetness
08. Horseback Riding In A Bicycle
09. A Functional Tumor
10. Nurser Of Small Hurts
11. Whiskey Sipper
12. Underachiever

[10/25/11]
[Translation Loss]

Opening to roaring feedback and a trudging doom riff fit for heyday Sabbath, East Of The Wall‘s sophomore effort The Apologist opens up quite unexpectedly. After all, such an opening wouldn’t often hint at a stylistic change that follows that would sit well among technically-minded music fans that East of the Wall’s fanbase is comprised of. For those unfamiliar with East of the Wall, think Mastodon with a post-hardcore flair or Isis‘ penchant for thoughtful instrumentation crossed with The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s acrobatic guitars. You’re in the ballpark, but just shy of home plate.

The Apologist is actually the band’s first group-written effort, and it certainly shows. Whereas the debut Ressentiment was a re-worked collection of demos from bands and projects past, The Apologist is much more cohesive, keeping a sort of continuity in the style and direction that the group are aiming for. At heart, East of the Wall are some sort of post/prog hybrid that would certainly find themselves falling comfortably on the ears of fans of forward-thinking and challenging metal everywhere.

Once being an entirely instrumental band, the emphasis on musical complexity has not been lost—certainly not by now anyway. The three guitarists make good with their instruments and weave angular guitar leads around each other for strange polyphony that always remains interesting. The bass isn’t left high and dry either; the powerful and distorted bass is almost always present and equally as important as his six-string brethren.

The band, despite showing signs of easing into their sound for good, avoid putting themselves into one single cover. They let loose and go for all-out tech-wizardry wow factor on the absolutely insane and unfittingly titled “Underachiever” to the slightly more subdued and emotionally-driven “Linear Failure,” which is contender for guitar solo of the year.

Managing to one-up Mastodon’s three vocalists, East of the Wall boast a whopping four vocalists trading off each other, focusing on sludgy screams and emotive clean singing that are only given focus when necessary. Since all of the vocalists are also stringsmen, a good third of the album relies on impressive instrumental passages, and they don’t dumb themselves down for the sake of poppy vocal hooks. Sure, many memorable moments are provided via the vocalists (opener “Naif” sports killer vocal hooks and sets a precedent for how intense their vocal performances can get), East of the Wall stays true to their roots.

East of the Wall are a hard band to pin down, mentally. The only solid conclusion that one can come to once The Apologist‘s initial playthroughs finish has to be along the lines of, “that was pretty fucking good, but what did I just hear?” The Apologist is an enigma of an album, demanding (and deserving) of undivided attention. Many songs flow into each other, which is a tactic I’ve always been a fan of. However, the album can be hard to follow. While undeniably excellent, East of the Wall manages to boggle the mind in more ways than one. Here’s a fun fact: four different people have tried tackling this album for review, and we all had a hard time dissecting it. Whether or not that’s a good thing is left up to you. East of the Wall are certainly a challenging band, and unlike the title may suggest, they make no apologies for it.

East of the Wall – The Apologist gets…

4/5

– JR

 

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