Artist: White Walls
Album: White Walls – EP
Many of us spend a good portion of our days trapped in a mind-numbing, mundane but moderately well-paying day job. The same nine-to-five shift, the same menial tasks, the same miniscule results; all surrounded by the same four walls and lit by the same incandescent lights. Before long, repetition takes shape, seemingly growing a backbone and ribs, maturing into full-blown routine that molds itself in our image. Or at least, that’s how many of us spend our days; White Walls being a noteworthy exception. This Flensberg five-piece melodic hardcore act craft beautifully composed instrumental arrangements which climax into gut-wrenching, heart-pounding aggressive and emotional tidal waves of raw, organic hardcore that comprise their debut self-titled release. These behemoths of sound and fury overtake the listener with a glistening, pure energy that seems hand crafted to obliterate routine and cause swells of primal passion in the listener’s heart—even if at times they only instill tide pools.
On one hand, White Walls is filled to the brim with overwhelming amounts of intense, colorful energy. Vibrant, punchy percussion leads the charge, with splashy cymbals and deep, booming toms contrasting against each other, melding wonderfully with a sharp, cracking snare drum and an over-the-top, immense kick drum. This provides a baseline—a pulse from which the guitars spike and the bass guitar to rumble along with. Together, these elements weave together to create dynamic and immersive soundscapes, ranging from crushing, chugged-out and cranium-cracking breakdowns to reflective pools of intelligent, languid musicianship. “Of Hopes and Dreams” is a beautiful example of this—a crushing tidal wave of intense instrumentation rolling out of the simmering, subtle build-up that defines the album’s introduction. Tremolo-pickled leads roar forth from one guitar, while the rhythm and bass provide a low, grinding groove that smashes down the walls around the listener’s heart—all so the straightforward, honest aggression of “The Recurring Instant” can stream in to their arteries without anything in its path. Whether it’s building up to a climax, or the climax itself, the musicianship that serves as White Walls’ motivating force is akin to the energizer bunny—a constant, battering, beating supply of life and vivacity that beats as strongly as the human heart itself.
White Walls is not just a cantankerous, relentless steamroller of a hardcore release, however. Before these crushing monoliths of musical intensity crash down upon the listener, they must spawn from something. These moments of subtle instrumental build-up and serene, smooth musicianship serve as the ebbing and lapping waves that are the source of the band’s intensity. The closing portion of “The Recurring Instant,” as well as “Anchored” showcase this brilliantly, with portions that are equally intense and calm, balancing each other out and creating an oscillatory dynamic. These two extremes are linked by harsh, yet intelligible screams and shouts that tell tales of self-betterment and desire. The vocals throughout White Walls; especially those on “Of Hopes and Dreams” and “Changes” are a wellspring of the band’s boundless emotional capability. The grating, minorly monotonous screams and shouts wear away at the listener’s emotional guard such that they are able to truly convey the raw and pure emotional content that they convey. In this fashion, the band make clear their song-writing strategy; by linking smooth, serene calm to hard-hitting heaviness with vocals and lyrics that the listener can understand and relate to, each track on this brief EP becomes a miniature experience.
From every transient splash to each crushing climax, White Walls create a colorful listening experience that showcases wonderful, prodigal songwriting ability. While some of the EP’s climaxes fail to inspire the same levels of awe as those found at the end of “Paradigm,” or fail to capture the same unparalleled energy and emotion of the climax to “Of Hopes and Dreams,” each is still the product of clear, concise song structuring and palpable, personal emotion. What is even more incredible is the manner in which White Walls combine pulse-pounding hardcore instrumentation and high-flying vocal melodies to drive their message home. Take for example, the conclusion to “Anchored.” Driving, galloping drums and furiously fretted chords strum and strike in perfect harmony with the meter of the screams roaring forth from the vocalist’s throat. The result? A synchronized, stunning and disarming experience that breaks down the listeners walls such that the lyrics can truly reach out and connect where it counts—the listener’s heart. Even as this moment is far from the genre—or EP’s—most powerful moment, it is still beautifully and effectively composed and utilized.
Take twenty minutes out of your same-old work day and let White Walls break down the routine that follows you like a shadow. With their debut EP, this young band prove that—while they still have some refining to do—they are more than proficient at providing a punchy, rollicking and raw hardcore experience with an emotional, melodic twist.
For Fans Of: Counterparts, Hundredth, Parkway Drive, Motives
By: Connor Welsh