Album Review – White Walls / Grandeur (2020)

Hailing from the Romanian shores of the Black Sea, four talented musicians return with their third full-length album of dynamic, splendorous and grandiose Progressive Metal.

Hailing from the Romanian shores of the Black Sea, more specifically from the city of Constanța, where the band was formed back in 2009, Progressive/Alternative Metal outfit White Walls has been associated with diverse groups such as Leprous, The Ocean, Opeth, Tool and Karnivool, often intertwining elements of darkness and light with relentless riffs, melancholic chords and a balanced mix between restlessness and restraint, resulting in what the band itself likes to call “Dynamic Progressive Metal”. Now in 2020, vocalist Eugen Brudaru, guitarist Alexandru-Eduard Dascălu, bassist Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu and drummer Theo Scrioșteanu return with an exciting full-length album entitled Grandeur, the third in their undisputed career. Mixed and mastered by Forrester Savell, and featuring a classy artwork by Romanian artist Radu Damian, Grandeur opens a whole new spectrum of musical pathways and offers a more mature sound seven years after the release of their previous effort Escape Artist. Inspired by the state of the world, the title is not only a beautiful word, but also reveals some of the underlying themes in the songs.

Serene guitars and a feeling of peace and hope will penetrate your mind in the intro False Beliefs, revving up the band’s engine for the groovy and violent Eye For An I, offering our ears a frantic, headbanging fusion of classic Progressive Metal the likes of Mastodon and Gojira with modernized Groove Metal nuances, with Eugen being on fire with both his clean vocals and his enraged roars. Then it’s time for another sonic voyage titled Home Is On The Other Side, where Alexandru cuts our skin deep with his riffage while Serban makes the earth tremble with his bass, not to mention it’s atmospheric intermission, sounding very intricate, detailed and vibrant until the very last second; and there’s not a single second to waste as the quartet fires the thrilling Holy Worse, with Eugen growling rabidly while Theo dictates the pace with his rhythmic beats, sounding as if they were a more alternative version of Dream Theater. After that, strident guitars blended with the reverberating bass by Serban ignite the also electrifying Velvet, full of breaks and variations and, therefore, perfectly representing what White Walls are all about, and I must say it will undoubtedly please all fans of the genre; and there’s more of Serban’s thunderous bass jabs in Speaking in Tongues, a very dynamic and straight-to-the-point composition where the band needs less than three minutes to showcase all their dexterity and passion for progressive sounds.

In Starfish Crown we face lyrics that are obviously there to make you think (“Retrieve the heart that whispers in your ear / My crescent lights flow / Would you help me? / Repetition is key / Resolution? We’ll see… / No direction for me / Just a silly dream”), while Serban and Theo make a fantastic duo as the band’s groovy kitchen, whereas Locked-in Syndrome is a little more inclined to Progressive Rock than the other songs, with Eugen doing a great job once again by displaying all his vocal range while Alexandru extracts minimalist but at the same time piercing sounds form his guitar. Then it’s time to enhance their heaviness and groove in the neck-breaking Month’s End, a fantastic tune with Theo smashing his drums with tons of precision and rage, resulting in one of my favorite songs of the album, exhaling an infinite amount of progressiveness and feeling. And you better prepare your senses for over six minutes of hammering Progressive Metal sounds in The Descent, where all band members demonstrate their close relationship with their instruments. In addition, Alexandru’s guitar solos are absolutely stunning, adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result. Lastly, let’s have a blast with Serban and Theo with their respective bass jabs and beats in The Slaughter (Marche Funèbre), sounding like two or three songs in one thanks to the amazing job done by the quartet throughout the song’s eight minutes of sheer complexity and creativity, before the music smoothly fades into eternity.

It’s indeed a very pleasant and unique experience to explore each and every track found in Grandeur in detail, and you can do so by streaming the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to properly support White Walls and inspire them to keep moving forward you can purchase a copy of the album from your favorite retailer by clicking HERE, as well as by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and by subscribing to their YouTube channel. The actual meaning of the word “grandeur”, which is splendor and impressiveness, especially of appearance or style, perfectly suits the music by White Walls, who not only represent Romanian rock and metal anywhere they go, but they also show everyone that, despite its complexity, Progressive Metal can be just as breathtaking as any other music style.

Best moments of the album: Eye For An I, Velvet and Month’s End.

Worst moments of the album: Locked-in Syndrome.

Released in 2020 Tentasol Records

Track listing
1. False Beliefs 1:38
2. Eye For An I 4:45
3. Home Is On The Other Side 5:04
4. Holy Worse 4:50
5. Velvet 4:56
6. Speaking in Tongues 2:41
7. Starfish Crown 5:32
8. Locked-in Syndrome 4:28
9. Month’s End 4:19
10. The Descent 6:47
11. The Slaughter (Marche Funèbre) 8:57

Band members
Eugen Brudaru – vocals
Alexandru-Eduard Dascălu – guitar
Șerban-Ionuț Georgescu – bass
Theo Scrioșteanu – drums

Guest musician
Cosmin Farcaș – additional keys and effects

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