There is no better pleasure than when a band and release you are only vaguely aware of, if at all, comes out of peripheral vision to slap the senses and passions into a state of lustful awareness. That is exactly what Safe in Sound, the debut album from Israeli metallers Walkways did. It is a glorious blend of alternative and nu metal plus more, addiction forming grooves and a hungry snarl setting it apart from most as it brings a refreshing inventive presence to eagerly feast upon.
Formed in 2007, Walkways are relatively unknown outside of their homeland, though a trio of previous singles (including a cover of Adele’s Skyfall) certainly scratched the surface of attention wider afield. With Safe In Sound though you can only sense and hope that the previous state of affairs will be addressed for the quintet of vocalist Ran Yerushalmi, guitarists Bar Caspi and Yoni Menner, bassist Avihai Levy, and drummer Priel Horesh. It certainly has all the invention, imagination, and sheer infectiousness to brand the band on the map of modern metal. Mixed by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, Katatonia), the record is a masterful and unpredictable blend of potent flavours and styles which stir the imagination and heart; quite simply it is one of the best albums to grace the year.
From the sinister intro, band and album instantly entwine the listener in deliciously enticing grooves and sonic temptation with Blood Into Water, Caspi and Menner simultaneously carving deep furrows in the senses with carnivorous craft or soothing them with melodic weaves. The striking start drops into drifting atmospheric warmth to welcome the excellent vocals of Yerushalmi, a man who across the album proves a fine and inventive vocalist, whilst the rhythms temper their initial provocation to drive this scintillating melodic turn deeper. As it continues to twist the song enslaves a needy hunger for its unpredictable and enthralling offering, seamlessly blending snarling intimidation and glowing smouldering seduction with ease. Sound wise the song comes over like a thrilling mix of Absolace with Coheed and Cambria with the richest bite and invention of Korn and unpredictability of fellow Israelis Onama, the latter pair more pronounced the further the album is explored.
For all of the comparison which will be inspired by the release there is a uniqueness and individuality about Walkways which leaves thoughts and ears excited, especially when tracks like the following All Lies bounds the emotions in a wrap of rapacious imagination and energy. Again a track which fidgets and sizzles with twists of thought and adventure, it takes on a more Korn like presence the further it teases, the vocals evolving into a strong Jonathan Davis resembling stance though again retaining a distinction of their own. It is a continuation of the impressive start strongly continued by Endless I with its slightly schizophrenic sonic dance and flowing wash of melodic grandeur. There is a Deftones whisper or maybe a more Palms like one to its immersive persuasion that only enhances the rich emotive call of the song and leaves a bright blush of pleasure in its wake.
The next two songs are arguably the pinnacle of the album, though favourites shift with each eager listen. Firstly Towards the Light charges up its batteries for an excitable rampage across the ear with a wholly contagious beckoning spawned by a dazzling mix of technical/progressive metal and heavy rock. There is a touch of Nonpoint to the encounter but also Meshuggah glimpses as well as in deceitful quirkiness Scars On Broadway. There is an instant friendship struck up by the track, a familiarity to its lure which without obvious comparisons makes the fun all the more intensive but it is still only an appetiser for its successor. The start of Thoughts is not comfortable, the electro effected vocals suggesting something…well cringe worthy…but to doubt this band is mad as the track soon erupts into a thumping predacious slab of rock ‘n’ roll driven with a Mishkin like creative rabidity and magnetic invention. The latest single from the band it encapsulates everything about Walkways in an irresistible and explosive suasion.
Through the enchanting yet menacing Luminary Kid with spoken vocals adding narrative to what is primarily an instrumental, and Sweet Medicine which is as wonderfully niggling as it is plaintively evocative, the album boils up further before the excellent Out stands with sinews loaded before the ear. It might be a relatively muscular excursion at times but the song takes no time in soothing its passage with some enticing heart bred reflection and colour rich melodic flame of varying degrees of heat through the creative guitars and concentrated expressive vocals, backed by pressing basslines and forceful rhythms. It is a fire of inventive resources which builds into a climatic and dramatic provocation. Korn meets Tricore/An Entire Legion, the song is another lofty highpoint of a towering release.
After the decent enough melancholic instrumental Pause, agitation takes on another depth of imagination with the metallic bedlam of Actions, a track which sees Walkways turn Dog Fashion Disco on our asses with again a sturdy Korn spite to its rhythmic and sonic venom, whilst Skin Deep takes flight over the sores with a melodic wind of passion soaked resonance. To all extents the closure of the album with the brief instrumental Staring Through Closed Blinds adding its epilogue, the track finishes a stunning album. Safe in Sound is an inciting and infectious introduction of Walkways to the world but more than that it is a strikingly creative and thrilling take on modern metal; it has stolen our lust.
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