East Of The Wall is Seth Rheam: drums, Chris Alfano: bass and vocals, Greg Kuter: guitar and vocals, Ray Suhy: guitar, Matt Lupo: guitar and vocals.
The Apologist is the apex of the East Of The Wall’s lumbering history. This is a group that reinvents itself with each new album, a band whose members scurry off to a myriad of other projects, and return home with the scavenged spoils of new ideas. The distance between 2008’s Farmer’s Almanac and 2010’s Ressentiment is a chasm wide enough. When adding in the perspective of past and present musical excursions, such as The Postman Syndrome, El Drugstore, Argonauts, Day Without Dawn, and other related extracurricular endeavors, the breadth becomes harrowing, and vertigo ensues.
So now we come to The Apologist, the point in which these diverging paths meet and race towards the meridian. It merges the more melodic instrumental movements of the band’s earlier material with the aggression of its latter works. Never has the band moved as far with such ease. Songs span multiple tracks and titles, and encompass a landscape of sonic topography.
The vocal elements, explored for the first time on Ressentiment, have been chiseled into a well-honed tool, and yet used more sparingly, often digging into the mix instead of towering above it. Yet when they rise, they do so with more authority. The most thundering moments of heaviness have taken on a new sheen as well, with an often terrifying beauty in contrast to Ressentiment’s dissonant harshness. And in remembrance of Farmer’s Almanac’s sweeping vistas, there is a larger focus on purely instrumental sojourns.
The Apologist is the zenith of East Of The Wall’s continued development, bridging its divergent routes and establishing the band’s identity as one of the most adventurous yet powerful groups of the genre, whatever genre it is that you attempt to fit the band into.
Recorded by Andrew Schneider at Translator Audio in Brooklyn (Cave In, Pelican, Keelhaul, Unsane, Rosetta). Mastered by Nick Zampiello and Rob Gonella at New Alliance East in Boston (Converge, Cave In, Junius, Keelhaul, Red Chord). Artwork by Eric Nyffeler at Doe Eyed Design.
- Photos, logos, lyrics, and album art can be found on the media page. -
American Aftermath – December 7th, 2010
Fix (video interview) – October 4th, 2010
Metal Underground – July 7th, 2010
Gravedigger Magazine – April 13th, 2010
Sea Of Tranquility – March 7th, 2009
The Ripple Effect – December 21st, 2008
To trace the infectious-like growth that began when The Postman Syndrome originally disseminated into Day Without Dawn, Biclops, East Of The Wall and whatever else, is a task best left for a Wikipedia poster with a penchant for genealogy. Instead be sure that this outfit comes from the same stock as the aforementioned acts and continues the same forward thinking musical acuity.
As with past releases, East Of The Wall remain an almost entirely instrumental affair. This allows the band to fully explore an intrinsic and starkly progressive course without having to make way for choruses and the like. Often chaotic in a sense, the music crafted here is wiry and flush with layers of depth while still being immediately vibrant and lively.
When the band reach a climactic peak, the listener is either catapulted to a new level of intensity or left to spiral downwards through another gripping, thought provoking passage. Melodies are tempered into careening metal, slow build-up’s reveal moments of beautifully serene clarity and patience dictates a steady pace.
That in itself will be the deal breaker for those who either fall in line behind this band or move on to more conventional pastures. For as the groups focus remains rock solid, this also means that some parts will intentionally begin to weigh heavy on the listener before emerging in a new form. While this may sound formulaic in a sense, the bands approach is seemingly subconscious in attaining such a pronounced sonic lucidity.
Angular harmonies and metallic aggression rarely intersect this gracefully and the skill with which they are melded here is a testament to this bands instinct. It’s not for everyone, but fans of groups like The Fall Of Troy, Pelican and of course East Of The Wall’s pedigree will likely be enjoying this ‘almanac’ from cover to cover.
As far as band monikers go, East of the Wall pale in comparison to the outfit from whose ashes they emerged: The Postman Syndrome. However, any metal band daring enough to title their debut full-length Farmer’s Almanac probably aren’t worried about playing by any of the genre’s rules. C’mon, Farmer’s Almanac? That shit’s just damn folksy! But backward rubes these New Jersey dudes are most definitely not as they filter Cave In’s entire genre-traversing history through Cynic’s new-age/smooth-jazz metal- all without a pesky vocalist getting in the way. Those looking for hooky, hummable melodies will likely hear nothing but indistinct musician’s widdle. However, those on the prowl for progressive, dynamic post-metal that injects lushness and warmth into technically shrewd and structurally sound compositions will easily find something on Farmer’s Almanac to bang their brainy heads to.
It’s albums like this that make me love the fact that I write for a webzine. For every 20 shitty run-of-the-mill promos I am asked to review, I get one that makes my jaw drop down to the floor, where I am completely mesmerized by the music of some unknown unsigned band that deserves exposure, but because there’s no justice in this world, especially in the music industry, the band has to toil away in obscurity. “Farmer’s Almanac” is one of those records.
EAST OF THE WALL is an instrumental Post-Rock from New Jersey, and it was formed by the members of the now-defunct THE POSTMAN SYNDROME. I haven’t heard any TPS, but if it’s anything like this, it should be awesome.
The music can sometimes be very heavy (“Meat Pendulum”, “Clowning Achievement”), but generally, the music is in the realms of trippy instrumental Prog, and that’s where the band’s charm lies. They show complexity in their music, with the subtly changing rhythm, the beat constantly shifting to give the music this very ethereal and outwardly feel; the guitars and bass often playing around and off each other, with each driving the song in the same direction as the others, but taking a slightly different route. The musicians’ ability to write around each others’ melodic lines gives the music a richness which is discovered through repeated listens, because after a few times of subjecting yourself to this, you will see how, for example one guitar player will play a melodic line, while the other one will go from playing a basic rhythm to playing the harmony to the above line, while the bass plays a straightforward groove. The mall, barely noticeable discrepancies between the two guitars and the bass also adds to this effect, which gives the music an extra dimension of complexity.
However, despite being pretty complex harmonically and rhythmically, this music is melodic and catchy. It’s abundant with melodies, great riffs, everything seamlessly mixed into one pot, where the point isn’t to bash the listener’s head in or disorient them (like BEHOLD…THE ARCTOPUS would do. Who are awesome, by the way), but to compose complex yet memorable instrumental songs, with great hooks. My one problem with the album? It’s too short!! It’s not often where I can honestly say that time flies when I listen to an album, but “Farmer’s Almanac” goes by in what feels to be 10 minutes.
The Aquarian Weekly (October 8-October 15)
Local post Postman-Syndrome instrumentallers East of the Wall, whom I remember catching at the Saint a couple years back with Kayo Dot and being massively impressed. The kind of band you watch and want to join. In short, they ruled.
Farmer’s Almanac is the first I’m hearing of their recorded material, and I’m no less enthralled. They’re tech but groovy, atmospheric but heavy, intricate but immediate. You could crawl in these songs to keep warm for winter. Whatever your patience level for instrumental heavy music might be, there’s enough in Farmer’s Almanac to keep you hooked for the duration. If I had a label, I’d sign these dudes in a second. One of the coolest acts in Jersey, hands down.
I’d like to open this review by stating that this is my new favorite album. I’ve listened to a lot of music in my short time on God’s green earth, and I can’t remember being this compelled by one singular album. I don’t know if it’s going to be my favorite album of all time. Hell, my favorites seem to change with the seasons, and I honestly don’t particularly care about that. I’m living in the moment, and in this moment Farmer’s Almanac is my favorite album. What’s so good about it, you ask? Freaking everything!
Most people get turned off by music because the vocals do something to ruin the feel of the tunes. Well . . . for those people, you won’t have to worry about that here. There are no vocals. Farmer’s Almanac is a purely instrumental outing, and for the first time that I can remember, I’m not looking for a singer. I’m completely content reveling in the splendor of the waves of music crashing against my ear drums. On the first spinning of this disc, I remember thinking, “Damn. We have something here.” By the fifth or sixth listen, I wanted to write my own lyrics and lay down my own vocals to this thing. Not because the music needs it . . . God no! I just wanted to be a part of the creative process! I want to contribute to the majesty of Farmer’s Almanac. Fear not, Waveriders . . . I won’t do anything to disrupt the vibe of the album. I’ll just sit here and write beautiful words that will inspire you, the reader, to click the link at the end of the review to further explore the sounds of East of the Wall.
The album opens with “Meat Pendulum,” which has a mixture of acoustic guitars and heavily distorted bass, spending a good minute or so reminding me of Deliverance/Damnation era Opeth, before the tune explodes into off kilter dissonant guitar riffs and a monstrous double bass drum flurry. This tune is pretty straight forward in the way of hammering away at the senses to grab the listener’s undivided attention. I personally dig how the band changes up the rhythms without changing the riff . . . it kind of shows that progressive slant that keeps the hard edged music interesting, especially since there are no vocals to key into.
The tune ends abruptly and the next song, “Winter Breath,” kicks in, sounding almost as if the first song never really ended. But there’s no denying that these are two completely different songs as the guitars suddenly go with a clean tone, embracing the winter feel of the title. Note the bass work, specifically as Brett Bamberger uses some unorthodox techniques in the muting of the strings. This is what I’m talking about. Unique twists to the way music is normally performed. Always keeping the listener interested in the music. It’s almost as if the musicians are having a conversation through their instruments. Also, note the change of tone once again from the guitar tandem of Matt Lupo and Kevin Conway. The song goes from full on alt-rock to jazz. And that’s not it! The whole band gets into the action shortly after the jazz break with some tight ass start-stop work, and then goes off on another seemingly random tangent. So wonderfully fucking brilliant!
The Red Neck Wookie from Lakeside once told me that the only bass player who should have a bass with more than four strings is the dude from Dream Theater. Trust me folks, I’ll have him eating his words and running to cower behind Han Solo after he hears this. “Switchblade Knife” is a bass playing clinic. Hell! For that matter, it’s a guitar player’s clinic as well. So many different moods and tones flow through the context of the tune and it’s all embellished by the musical prowess of these fine lads. Now would be a good time to mention the work of drummer Mike Somers. The dude does an amazing job of keeping these three virtuosos together and making sure the tunes don’t fly apart on their own accord. He kind of acts as a tether grounding these guys and keeping them from flying into the sun. The end of this tune features some serious low end. I think I need to replace the speakers in the Popemobile again. This tune did a serious number to them!
Amazing guitar work is featured throughout Farmer’s Almanac, but check out “Clowning Achievement” at the 2:24 mark and get spellbound! After the initial mind blowing solo, the second guitar comes in, laden down with effects the like I’ve never heard and take me to another realm. Seriously . . . I can’t get enough of this! So many rich sounds swirling around my head. So much emotion and passion with every struck string. And, as if “Clowning Achievement” wasn’t enough, East of the Wall break down every barrier with “Unwanted Guest (I)” and throw in a little trumpet to compliment the jazzed out bass lines and guitar work.
Apparently, bassist Brett Bamberger and drummer Mike Somers were in a band together called Postman Syndrome prior to forming East of the Wall. Now . . . I don’t know squat about Postman Syndrome, but if they were anything like East of the Wall, I’m tracking down everything they’ve done and spinning it insane–like. I can’t recall ever being so moved by a piece of music like this before. Remember, I can get pretty jaded about music, so having something that intrigues me to this level of fascination is unprecedented. Farmer’s Almanac has already received some preferential treatment by taking up permanent residence in the Popemobile, for whatever good it does me. I still have to get those speakers replaced to truly enjoy the splendor of this album to its fullest potential. Folks, it ain’t hype if it’s true. Check these cats out . . . you won’t be sorry! — Pope JTE
So much of music is based on language that when something comea along utterly ignoring it, that something hits like a ton of brinks. Such is the case for New Jersey’s East of the Wall. Their debut full length, Farmer’s Almanac, features not even a second of spoken language. East of the Wall instead connects with listeners by pure, atavistic force of will.
The band accomplishes this difficult feat with an abstract brand of metal, the likes of which is consistently heavy yet consistently soothing. It morphs and melts into different moods, the individual band members seamlessly combining with one another into repeated displays of technical wizardry. Though describing these shifts borders on the futile, East of the Wall somehow reconnects with the listeners’ emotions, luring them into unfettered feeling.
For the sake of description, one should assume East of the Wall sounds like a vibrant rendering of Pink Floyd, Dsyrythmia, Cave In, Neurosis, and Scale the Summit. Even this picture is misleading, however – every conceivable noise put forth by East of the Wall is joyous and transcendental. From the brisk riffing of “Meat Pendulum” to the otherworldly tectonic activity of “Winter Breath,” Farmer’s Almanac also maintains a level of infectious catchiness one would not normally associate with an instrumental band. This does not mean Farmer’s Almanac lacks its heavy parts though – “Century of Excellence” lays down nuclear-powered slams while “‘Switchblade Knife” reaps fields of pain with riffs that cut from one direction and crush in another. Best of all is the “Unwanted Guest” duo, the likes of which spans the musical spectrum from Tool-esque tribalism into dream-like, sparkling heaviness and back again.
Lush and inviting, Farmer’s Almanac really is all about the music. The rhythmic, complex arrangements on offer here are a sort of canvas, upon the likes of which listeners can paint almost any scenario. When presented with such a unique album, it is as if the creativity of the band melts into the creativity of the listener, the former’s music inspiring the latter’s feelings. Having been through the entirety of Farmer’s Almanac myself, I can heartily say that what I am feeling is happy, wicked, and overjoyed after hearing this.
Out of the ashes of the Postman Syndrome a new band was born in the shape of East of the Wall. Comprised initially of ex-Posters Brett Bamberger (bass) and Mike Somers (drums) they joined forces with Jeff Speidell (guitars) and a self titled EP was issued not long after. The band added second guitarist Matt Lupo (another Post Syndrome member) and began work on their first full length Farmer’s Almanac. In 2007 Speidell would leave the band and be replaced with Biclops guitarist Kevin Conway.
It a bit of a drag at times for this reviewer to try and describe a certain band’s sound especially when you have to use other bands as a comparison or a reference point (which is probably the main reason why I try to refrain from doing it whenever I can) ,but suffice to say that these New Jersey boys play a unique blend of math and post-rock which at times can be compared to both Dysrythmia and Canvas Solaris. There I did it ok? Actually I think the Dysrythmia influence might have had something to do with the fact that Colin Marston was the man responsible for getting this all down in the studio. Seriously though this eight song collection features an abundance of jaw dropping, intricate and at times rather heavy, dual guitar interplay that creates a crushing wall of sound, and yet they counteract this with some of the most absolutely beautiful and catchy sounding melodies you’ll ever come across. “Winter Breath” is a perfect early example at just how well they balance the light and shade element within their music. “Century of Excellence” is another track which when it kicks into overdrive feels like a mastodon, not a bull, in a china shop and yet the track shifts back and forth with ease between its massive ultra-heavy approach and softer, melodic passages. In fact this is the basic modus operandi for the majority of Farmer’s Almanac and one which works to near perfection. You’re basically either being pummeled over the head and engulfed in a steady stream of relentless aggression, like for example on “Clowning Achievement”, a song which is chock full of blazingly fast guitar solos, or they’re luring you in with the mellow sounds of a hypnotic bass line and trumpet solo on “Unwanted Guest (I)”. However, it’s when they employ both methods within the same track that the best results are achieved.
Any way you decide on classifying Farmer’s Almanac is fine with me because at the end of the day where it fits into the grand scheme of things is pretty much irrelevant anyway. The main thing is the music offered here offers the listener a kind of best of both worlds approach. With elegantly constructed, thought provoking compositions and exceptional performances by each musician leading the way. At the end of the day it’s these elements (the most important ones) that should be the topic of discussion, because the music is basically either good or it’s bad, regardless of charaterization. To put it simply Farmer’s Almanac is hands down just good music, but it’s really good music.