By Lane Oliver
Last year, a band I had not heard of before then graced my ears with their album, Ressentiment. That album was my favorite of 2010 and continues to be one of my favorite records of all time. East of the Wall are one of the most unique and impressive bands that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. When a little bird told me that they were writing new music, I was very excited but my expectations were high. Ressentiment, though slightly unfocused at times, was an instant classic for me and I figured the band would have a hard time topping it. Well, music fans, I give you their new album, The Apologist. You tell me if they topped Ressentiment or not.
The piercing feedback leads into an elephant-sized sludge metal riff on the album’s opener, “Naif”. One might hypothesize (as I did) that the rest of the track will be a sludgy beast. Well shame on you and me! “Naif” soon undergoes a drastic stylistic change that will leave the listener wondering what had just happened. From Sludge, to post-rock, back to sludge, than to an almost alternative/progressive rock feel to the end. Adding huge contrasting sections to a single song is East of the Wall’s specialty (“False Build” is a perfect example of this). “Naif” flawlessly flows into “Linear Failure” which features one of the most gorgeous, jazz oriented guitar sections I have ever heard. You just have to hear it to believe it. But that is just one section of the song because once again, the band surprises you with flawlessly switching to a completely different section without sounding forced. One might criticize it for sounding “random”, but this is not the case. These shape-shifting entities called “East of the Wall songs” sound completely organic and are performed with such virtuosic skill that is makes the whole song flow very well. “Linear Failure” leads into the post-rock, acoustic hybrid instrumental, “My Favorite Society Guy”. The instrumental tracks have reared their head again on The Apologist like they did on Ressentiment. But instead of sounding like filler tracks, they sound like full fleshed out songs. Since East of the Wall used to be a pure instrumental band they obviously know how to make a song void of vocals stand out on their own. My favorite instrumental would have to be “Running Tab of Sweetness” that is also one of the album’s heavies moments. It sounds like if Mastodon and The Dillinger Escape Plan had a schizophrenic, demon baby. I may use those two bands as examples, but honestly, the track doesn’t really sound like either of those bands that much. But that’s East of the Wall for you. They are one of those bands that I just cannot pin down genre wise. Obviously, I sense elements of progressive rock/metal and sludge, but they are so unique that they cannot simply be put in those categories.
Perhaps that is why The Apologist was such a great auditory experience for me. I never knew what to expect next. It was the equivalent of watching a movie you have never seen before. But unlike watching a movie, The Apologist’s entertainment value doesn’t fade upon repeated “viewings”. You can listen again and again and the band will still awe you with their jaw-dropping instrumental chops and unique brand of melodic clean vocals. I honestly have nothing negative to say about this album really. It flows so much better than Ressentiment did and is very superior to that album in almost every way. This one of those albums you have to hear to believe. Do yourself a favor and stream the entire album below. You’ll be glad you did.
Label: Translation Loss
Favorite tracks: “Linear Failure”, “False Build”, “Running Tab of Sweetness”, “Whiskey Sipper”, “Underachiever”