Walkways – Safe in Sound

Photo by Avihai Levy Photography | AvihaiPhoto.com

Photo by Avihai Levy Photography | AvihaiPhoto.com

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 1044369_329815420485756_1779077289_nInto 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.

https://www.facebook.com/Walkways

9.5/10

RingMaster 26/07/2013

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Onoma: All Things Change

When recently reviewing the excellent From Israhell With Love compilation, a release which highlighted the strength and diversity of metal bands coming out of Israel, one band stood out over what was an impressive line-up of bands and songs. The band was Onoma, a Tel Aviv based alternative metal quartet whose track Bug was an instant addiction with its vibrant and fresh sound, ideas, and energy. Their contribution ensured the need to hear more and the opportunity came when guitarist Asaf Keidan from the band approached The RR for a review of their album. Obviously being professional we deliberated and thought about the offer…for all the time it took to type yes please… and what emerged was an album which excited and thrilled like so few other releases have in recent months. All Things Change is outstanding, an album which took no time in entrenching itself in the imagination and heart.

Onoma, the Greek word for ‘Name’, were formed in 2007 by Keidan, vocalist Elad Koren, and drummer Saggi Chen. Early demo recordings during the first couple of years led to songs like My Drug, Twisted, and the aforementioned Bug, gaining strong attention and praise across the internet and web radio whilst the next two years saw not only an ever increasing interest and following as the band gigged across Israel, but also the addition of bassist Andrei Aframov (ex-Phantom Pain) to the permanent ranks. Last year the band ventured into the studio to begin the album alongside famed producer Sylvia Massy (Tool, System Of A Down, Skunk Anansie, Deftones) who mixed it and James Murphy (Death, Obituary) who handled the mastering, with the band itself doing the production work. What emerged is a release is quite stunning.

All Things Change is an album which incorporates a multitude of sub metal genres to conjure up distinct brews of alternative and nu-metal driven goodness. The band state their influences as bands like Alice In Chains, Korn, Deftones, and Meshuggah, all clear to hear at times, but their spicery does not stop there as at times the likes of American Head Charge, (Hed) P.E.,  Watcha, Marilyn Manson, and Scars On Broadway to name a few, shoot through thoughts as the tracks unleash their inventive craft.

The album starts with Lauds, a short track come intro, which heightens the anticipation of what is too come with its chilling ambient and slightly distressed breath. The release is soon into its stride with Dear God and its military welcoming beats and abrasive riffs. Within moments it settles into a tight heated groove and djent toned rhythmic badgering. The vocals of Koren pick and chew at the lyrics delivering them in a Jonathan Davis like style which is as punchy as the jabbing and combative sounds. Once the melodic whispers turn to shouts there is a Drowning Pool like aggression added to further ignite the senses, the track climaxing on a belligerent and compulsive swagger.

The outstanding start is easily matched by the following Cannot Go and Loser Friendly. The first stalks the ear with tempting riffs and intimidating rhythms, its prowl a disruptive pattern of challenging and deeply rewarding invention. The song stomps and musically curses the ear with an angry intensity and deliberate antagonistic air whilst soothing its wounds with melodic enterprise. The second of the two is a heavy and shadowed Deftones like gaited piece of emotive expression. It has its moments charging with incendiary bursts of energy but at its core is an enveloping provocative slab of passionate might which bruises as much as it exhilarates.

The brilliant Bug ensures there is no dip in excellence or power, though all songs ensure the same. It is one of the most additive songs heard in a long time and a track which only takes one listen to become a best friend. The track is a tempest of melodic and discord driven wonder which captivates and riles up the emotions with equal effect. It has the melodic grace of Absolace, the creative imagination of iBURN, and the mischievous invention of System Of A Down, all driven by the spinal corruption of Periphery. Immense is the only word for it, and as you may have guessed we quite like it.

With the magnificent Animal coming at the ear with the same venomous conjuration as Bug, and the great closing pair of Fight Myself and Nothing Right offering a final ferocity and towering mix of melodic intrusion and muscular violation, All Things Change is easily one of the best things heard this year. Earlier this year we declared nu and alternative metal had been revitalised with the ingenuity of the release from Irish band iBURN now Onoma have shown it is truly thriving and more imaginative than ever.

http://www.onomaband.com

Ringmaster 30/08/2012

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