East of the Wall

EAST OF THE WALL are an American Prog Metal band from Keyport, New Jersey. During […]
By Santiago Puyol
May 4, 2019
East of the Wall - NP-Complete album cover

EAST OF THE WALL are an American Prog Metal band from Keyport, New Jersey. During over a decade of existence and five studio album releases, the band has gone through several line-up changes. The current line-up came together during the recording of their fifth album, "NP-Complete", released this year. The eight-track album features a compact and modern approach to Prog Metal, with a couple of influences from the Post-Rock, Post-Metal and Math Rock scenes.

Opener "Tell Them I'm Sorry" feels ominous and vaguely sinister with its lengthy, instrumental introduction. The instrumental prowess of the band members is on full display here, with some complex heavy riffing, intricate and creative drumming and groovy, quite melodic, bass lines. A Post-Rockish build-up brings everything a climatic end on the last minute. The fast-paced, jazzy "Fast-Bang Pooper Doop" follows, with angular, mathy riffs. A chill instrumental breakdown, reminiscent of the more breezy work of bands like CHON and even ANIMALS AS LEADERS completes the childishly titled track.

"The Almost People" take a more epic approach being over seven minutes. It transitions quite nicely from previous track, getting started with a melodic, clean guitar pattern. Some vaguely tribal drumming and pounding bass set the track into a 6/8 groove that swings along, throwing in some bars in shifting time signatures to make it more complex. Three minutes in, the song moves to a steady 4/4 beat, building tension towards a chaotic, raw ending. Harsh vocals enter, adding some needed heaviness.

Bubbly, reverb-drenched guitars and a hypnotic bass line conjure oceanic sceneries on "Somn 6", a track that aptly brings to mind Post-Metal band THE OCEAN. Seth Rheam provide some interesting patterns with the hi-hat, in a jazzy style similar to Gavin Harrison, while Chris Alfano's harsh vocals opt for a GOJIRA-esque style, being more noisy than aggressive in nature.

"Lienholder" and "Clapping on the Ones and Threes" end up being an intense, proggy one-two punch, as one song bleeds directly into the other, connected by an ambient passage. Both tracks get really heavy and feature several time signature and tempo changes, with the former being more manic in nature and the latter more structured. "Lienholder" has a strong psychedelic sound, being reminiscent of THE MARS VOLTA with its flanger-heavy guitars and bands like RX BANDITS at their craziest with its frantic drumming.

After effect-laden instrumental "N of 1" is over, the album closes with mini-epic "Non-Functional Harmony" a track that feels a lot like a THANK YOU SCIENTIST song in its structure. After a bluesy intro, it sets into a remarkable, syncopated 3/4 rhythmic pattern for its first third, while a beautiful echoey trumpet solo emerges halfway throught. There is also a really well placed and well executed, wailing guitar solo that makes great use of the wah-wah pedal. Things get really warm and lively on the chorus of the song.

"NC-Complete" has an outstanding production. Every instrument is perfectly audible, with none of them taking over the others unless the song asks for it. The sound of the drums in particular is very crisp and rich. The fun and quirky song titles add a little humour to the serious sounding music, never undermining the emotional impact of the songs, but also helping it from getting overtly serious. There seems to be some thematic continuity about the power of music and finding one's voice throughout the album, with some kind of existential crisis suggested by the lyrics. The more "meta" moment of the whole record has to be "Clapping on the Ones and Threes", with its lyrics getting a bit self-referencial. "A song in movements", just as the eight-minute track clearly is. "With the beats in common place, the chorus is 'us'", and the 4/4 beat says exactly the same.

Overall, an outstanding album that flows perfectly from track to track, avoids sameness while staying cohesive and manages to be enjoyable despite its complexities.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








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"NP-Complete" Track-listing:

1. Tell Them I'm Sorry
2. Fast-Bang Pooper Doop
3. The Almost People
4. Somn 6
5. Lienholder
6. Clapping on the Ones and Threes
7. N of 1
8. Non-Functional Harmony

East of the Wall Lineup:

Seth Rheam - Drums
Matt Lupo - Guitar, Trumpet, Synths, Vocals
Greg Kuter - Guitar, Vocals
Matt Keys - Guitar, Synths
Chris Alfano - Bass, Synths, Vocals

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