White Walls – Grandeur
Release Date: 23/10/2020
Running Time: 54:01
Review by Beth Jones
Afternoon metalheads! Tis I, MegaBeth!! And it’s time for another review! So, get yourselves comfy with your favourite beverage, and let’s talk tunes! Today’s listening is being brought to me by many bands, of many eclectic styles and genres. And first up on that list is Romanian progressive metal band, White Walls! Namely, their new album, “Grandeur” which is to be released in a couple of weeks’ time.
White Walls formed in 2009, but first came to my attention earlier in the year, when they performed at the European Metal Festival Alliance virtual festival, and were easily my band of the weekend. I am rather ashamed that I’d never been aware of them before, as this is their third album, and they’re bloody good! According to the press release this album is a ‘new sound’ for them, so I must check out the back catalogue to see what they sounded like before!
The album is inspired by the state of the world currently, and explores the juxtaposition of the grandeur presented by the shiny and glamourous things in life, vs the realities of life. The band’s sound has been compared to the likes of Leprous and Opeth, and I concur. So, if those bands cut it for you, then you’ll like White Walls.
The album begins with ‘False Belief’. It starts as a mellow and chilled-out track, with guitar, keys and bass exploring cyclical chords, and Eugen Brudaru’s falsetto vocals sitting atop. This doesn’t hang around for long though, as the track quickly melds into track 2, ‘Eye For An I’. And this is brutal, with crunching guitar riffs, thumping drums, and a tortured vocal roar. It goes through various tempo changes, with Eugen’s clean vocals taking the lead in the slower sections, but it soon picks up the pace and goes back to punching you in the nose with the real world! We carry on in much the same way throughout the album. It’s a very clever mix of clean and harsh, echoing the themes on which the album is based.
Track 5, ‘Velvet’ is one that particularly caught my attention. Full of cross rhythms, dark and heavy, and with some really great bass work by Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu. And even though it’s got lots of changes and complex sections, you can really feel the rhythm, and move to it. If any of my neighbours where watching while I was writing this review, it probably looked like I was having some sort of fit!
Much of the album is in the same minor key, and they regularly use the Persian scale, which gives things a kind of Middle-Eastern ‘droning’ feel. This really works very well, and brings an air of sombre realisation to their sound. In quiet sections, they also use a lot of reverb, which makes those areas sound almost dreamlike. But it always kicks back in to bring you back down to earth.
I think my favourite track is ‘Locked-in Syndrome’. It’s a hellishly complex track rhythmically, and displays a lot of technical prowess from the whole band. Lyrically it’s tortured, and tormented, and it just really appeals to me. I’m a happy soul like that! From this track onwards the album gets even darker in it’s sound, which again pleases me. ‘The Decent’ is a real mixed bag of everything that’s happened so far, and there’s so much going on at one point that you do feel your descending into some sort of madness. There’s a really low bass note in this track at one point, too, which sits as far forward in the mix as they’ve dared, because of its depth, and literally vibrates your brain. Awesome!
The album closes with a monster of a track. Coming in at nearly 9 minutes long, ‘The Slaughter’ starts with some jazz drums, and guitar, all beautifully panned in the mix. A section of guitar and vocals in the middle of the track give the melancholy feel of a battlefield, in the ‘calm before the coming storm’, which kicks back in pretty quickly. This sequence is revisited at the end of the track, where the full band sound fades into just the guitar and vocal, with repetition of the words ‘just go on ahead’. It’s a very sombre end to a very good album.
When it comes to mixing and mastering, the production of “Grandeur” is great, too. It was done by Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Make Them Suffer, Animals as Leaders), and he’s obviously thought carefully about the placement of each instrument, to create a fully immersive sound with great depth. I must also give a quick mention to the album artwork. Created by Radu Damian, its imagery fits superbly with the sound and themes of the album.
All in all, this is a very mature and well though about album by a band who now clearly see their direction. I really enjoyed it and am extremely glad to have now discovered White Walls.
01. False Beliefs
02. Eye For An I
03. Home Is On The Other Side
04. Holy Worse
06. Speaking in Tongues
07. Starfish Crown
08. Locked-in Syndrome
09. Month’s End
10. The Descent
11. The Slaughter (Marche Funèbre)
Alexandru-Eduard Dascălu (Dasu) – Guitar
Eugen Brudaru – Vocals
Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu – Bass
Theo Scrioșteanu – Drums
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