Walls of Jericho – The American Dream

Band: Walls of Jericho
Album: The American Dream
Genre: Hardcore/Punk
Label: Trustkill

1. The New Ministry
2. II The Prey
3. The American Dream
4. Feeding Frenzy
5. I The Hunter
6. Famous Last words
7. A Long Walk Home
8. III Shock of the Century
9. Discovery of Jones
10. Standing on Paper Stilts
11. Night of a Thousand Torches
12. The Slaughter Begins

About a week ago, JP and I had the privilege to not only see Walls of Jericho in concert, but interview them as well [which will be posted soon]. In that interview, we were told this album was one of anger and fury and to be honest, that’s the best way to put it. The American Dream, the Detroit based act’s latest release on Trustkill Records is a well polished, yet gritty and in your face hardcore album. This isn’t a disc for those of you rocking out to new hardcore breeds like Norma Jean or Suicide Silence, but rather for those of us who still throw on Throwdown’s Haymaker and think that we’d never last in a fight with Madball. This is old school hardcore with just enough newer age sound to make it all feel so relevant and yet timeless all at once. If hardcore bands can hit their “stride,” then Walls of Jericho have just done it.

Ambient sounds and light keys welcome us to the battle cry,”The New Ministry.” The track has a wonderful slow build the gets you into sync wit the band then hits you square in the face with a driving riff and gang vocals to really pull your heart into the record. Vocalist Candice [yes, it’s a female] sounds like a beast on the prowl for the weak when calling out for everyone to “live out your dream with everything you have inside you.” If this track is simply the buildup and then the almost unnoticeable switch to, “II The Prey,” is the circe bit inducing alarm sounding the true start to the record. The track is fast and the production is stellar. The band, even by this track, show great progress in writing [attributed mainly to taking a solid month to live and write together before hitting the studio]. The time signatures change without a moment’s notice and the band pulse like a caged creature throughout. This leads into the vocal introduction to the title track, which, without giving it away, is against the American dream. For a title track, this song has it all. It’s heavy, laced with great riffs, gang vocals, and stellar lyrics. Specifically, the bridge to final breakdown is one of the best production and writing moments on the whole record. Candice and group pulsate before cutting everything out to just Candice basically speaking the refrain the come raging back only to subside in a steady build to the breakdown. I was honestly in awe the first time it played and still catch myself going, “wow,” when it passes.

The fourth track, “Feeding Frenzy,” didn’t really hit me the way the previous ones had, however some work with audio projection direction was very welcomed. For those of you who are lost, there are moments whens the sound is heavy in one side of the speakers than the other [left vs. right]. Candice does have her own moment where she builds from soft spoken voice to brutal scram in about four lines and that is great, but otherwise, kind of a hit/miss track. I will say this, no one writes segways like WOJ. There is no track between, “Feeding,” and, “I The Hunter,” but the tracks match up flawlessly. This song begins a theme of straight forward, anger laced, pulsing hardcore that includes, “Famous Lat Words,” and, “A Long Walk Home.” However, “Walk,” features very technical guitar work that just surpasses the rest of the band. Whether it’s well placed feedback or simple mixing a chugging riff with some more freeform work, this track shines. The last breakdown is sure to induce a riot at live shows and the bass line on all the accented parts feels sent from God to make your feet move. Candice even sings on this track, a feat not too common on the disc, but it’s quite good and before you know it, the brutality returns as if to say, “and you thought we were going to go soft,” and then laugh in our faces.

As the disc continues on, “III Shock of the Century,” shows the band excelling in structure and composition. The technicality here surpasses the prior tracks exponentially and really makes you wonder where WOJ will take us next. “Discovery of Jonas,” is a pretty straightforward hardcore track, but the gang vocal usage is stellar. A lot of bands slow up gang vocal moments to add to the intensity, but WOJ just hits you full force as if it’s nothing new and I love every second of it. This then leads us into, “Standing on Paper Stilts,” which, though made up of solid guitar work, just let em down. The drum pattern felt far too similar to the previous track and nothing really set this one apart from any run of the mill hardcore band. However, every band has a few “normal” tracks in them and the rest of the disc has been solid enough that I decided to let it slide and continue to trudge on. Lucky for me, “Night of a Thousand Torches,” brought back all my faith in the band with easily their tightest track on the whole disc. Candice sounds like the voice nightmares are made of and the band plays very tightly throughout. Some time signatures changes allow for a bit more expression on the track and the bass line in the breakdown is undeniably catchy. Following this is the closer, “The Slaughter Begins,” which takes all the energy on the album and drops it about 7 notches for a very relaxed track. The band uses a few samples and Candice’s singing voice swoops in delicately and feels laced with intense emotion. The structure and atmosphere created is so strong here that you don’t even mind the sudden change in style because it stands on its own quite well. I’m not saying the whole album should have been like this, but it’s ridiculously good for a closer which is kind of odd considering the mood and sounds that lead up to this. What we have hear is a band that already works hard t expand their sound taking things to an even deeper, more technical level and it closes things beautifully,

The American Dream is a traditional hardcore album laced with elements of new age metal so perfectly that everything, even the subtle closer hits you like a ton of bricks. The production is some of the best I’ve heard all year and the writing is miles ahead of others in the genre. Candice sounds like a lion and the band plays like a herd of tigers o the loose at night. This album could incite riots and if it did, that’d only be fitting. If you’re only giving one band in the hardcore genre a chance this summer/fall, make it Walls of Jericho. This is a sound that may not be topping the Hot Topic playlists, but will outlive 90% of the “it” bands around today. I challenge anyone to find a more heart filled, technical, yet still old school rooted hardcore band or album out there today. This is the real deal. This is great.

*Written By: James Shotwell*
GRADE: 8/10

James Shotwell
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