Thursday, August 10, 2006

Walls of Jericho - With Devils Amongst Us All CD Review

One sure fire way to get noticed in the music industry, especially in the overcrowded metalcore subgenre, is to have something unique to set your band apart from the stereotypes that are overly prevalent in the minds of the every day Hot Topic drones. Walls of Jericho have that certain something in Candace Kucsulain, a female lead singer. Sadly, you wouldn’t know it, though, just by listening.

Walls of Jericho’s previous effort, All Hail the Dead, managed to get their name out in the industry’s varied metalcore circles, but it utterly failed to do anything unique or memorable. Run of the mill, by the numbers, and abysmally average could all be used to describe that effort, so on With Devils Amongst Us All, there was hopefully only one direction for the band to go. The band, however, must have gotten confused when getting directions because they managed to take a sweeping sidestep with this release as opposed to taking a step forward.

Truth be told, the music is a little more mature this time around with a meatier sound buoyed by a slightly more contained vocal performance from Candace, which should keep all the hardcore meatheads happy. Now I say contained in the sense that she seems to have a handle on how to use her voice this time around as opposed to sounding like she’s merely doing her best tough guy impression. Yes, she still sounds extremely manly throughout this release, but she finally lets a little femininity through. The key word in that sentence being “little”.

Musically the band are making use of more straight up hardcore progressions to move the songs along, which keeps the band feeling raw instead of coming off too polished, which has become a problem in the metalcore genre recently. A few of the breakdowns manage to come across weakly, however, as the band seems to have a hard time finding a proper fit for them within the structures of their songs.

There are also a few missteps taken throughout the CD, none of them outright terrible but still noticeable, that detract from the overall vibe of the effort. For example, the use of melodic gang vocals on “The Haunted” detracts from the aggressive nature of the song and leads to it feeling sorely misplaced. Also misplaced is the inclusion of the song “No Saving Me” on this album. It’s not uncommon for a hardcore or metalcore band to throw a ballad onto a release, but usually it is reserved for the end of the disc, not directly after the most blistering song on the record and preceding another rocket fast hardcore anthem. To add insult to injury, the ballad sounds more like a Lacuna Coil b-side than a natural mellowing of Walls of Jericho’s sound.

Putting these items aside, however, you’ll find that this disc is competent, listenable, and aggressive, but at the same time it is not noteworthy, resoundingly average, and safe. Much like their last release, With Devils Amongst Us All will probably make a small splash in metalcore circles and then fade quickly into obscurity.

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