East of the Wall - The Apologist
Translation Loss Records
Progressive Post-Hardcore
12 songs (48:18)
Release year: 2011
Translation Loss Records
Reviewed by Goat

East Of The Wall are one of those bands whose name I’ve heard around but never really taken the trouble of listening to, which is a grave mistake as third full-length The Apologist proves within seconds. Catching up a little on their previous album prior to writing this, last year’s Ressentiment, it’s quite obvious that that this is a definite progression in terms of instrumental skill and songwriting. I was originally going to write a paragraph about how each member of the band (a five-piece from New Jersey) has a beard, and how you can hear the chin-stroking elements in full in each instrumental meander – but it’s a cheap point to make about music of such quality.

Best, instead, to begin at the beginning; the wonderful way that post-rock melody and ominous hardcore heaviness are fused together in the opening seconds of first track Naif is immediately compelling. Subsequent soft vocals fit the music as well as the ensuring hardcore roars, roars that are carried over onto the following Linear Failure in a seamless flow. The album truly takes off, however, shortly afterwards, when the musicians really unleash their talent and go off on a proggy instrumental flourish, the vocals returning at a natural high point and vanishing again until they are needed. That’s a strong mark of quality, right there – a vocalist who knows when to shut up and let the music do the talking, and talk it does. Melodic, slick, clearly jazz-influenced and wonderfully emotion-hewn, this instrumental section clashes naturally with more technical post-metal-isms later in the same song, but East Of The Wall have the talent to pull it off, whether indulging in softness, harshness, or both together.

What really impresses about The Apologist is how rich and nourishing their complex songs are. All three guitarists play their hearts out, varied and diverse interweavings that are more than capably backed by a skilled rhythm section. False Build’s initial melody soon changes to scissoring technicality, somewhere between The Mars Volta, Protest The Hero and modern The Dillinger Escape Plan, all ending in a burst of hardcore gruffness – it’s hard to pick a song and only write one sentence about it! The following Precious Memories is what I’d like Mastodon to sound like today, complex and technical prog metal that doesn’t simplify the underlying heaviness one bit, using The Riff as alpha and omega of the songwriting process, resulting in a bit of guitar-driven metal that’s far better as an instrumental than many similar band’s songs with vocals! Running Tab Of Sweetness has a similar Mastodon-y vibe to it, more rocking and rolling as it shoots off into realms of lovely yet very grounded psychedelia.

Aside from the nice but not really necessary My Favourite Society Guy, this is an absolutely solid album that earns itself a long life on your playlist through sheer quality. From shorter pieces like Horseback Riding In A Bicycle to the seven-minute title track, East Of The Wall have crafted a high-quality album here, sitting on the progressive wall between post-hardcore and metal, with a firm grasp on the jazzy influences that help give the music such a vibrant, alive feel. Even the moments with largely clean-singing vocals, such as on the penultimate Whiskey Sipper, avoid the usual ‘core pitfalls and have an oddly human power of their own that is only built upon by the harsh vocals rather than contradicted. This is far from ‘pillow-biting’, as the final track Underachiever shows, violent technical bursts topped off with a melodic guitar line almost at odds with the rest of the music, but making a perfect sense. If only all hardcore was this good.

Killing Songs :
Linear Failure, False Build, Precious Memories, The Apologist, Running Tab Of Sweetness, Whiskey Sipper, Underachiever
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by East of the Wall that we have reviewed:
East of the Wall - Ressentiment reviewed by Steve and quoted 69 / 100
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