Walls of Jericho
All Hail the Dead

I distinctly remember not being that impressed with the debut album The Bound Feed the Gagged from this Michigan quintet, but also sharing the sentiment of the Teeth of the Divine writer that reviewed that album in thinking “I’ve not heard the last from this lot.” And here they are with album number 2, and it’s a drastic improvement.

Walls of Jericho took all the good stuff from their debut (the breakdowns, the agonized vocals) improved it and took the not so good stuff (the thrashy, Slayerish riffs) and improved those too. The end result is hardcore album of metal fueled intensity that plays like a female fronted version of All Out War’s latest long player Condemned to Suffer. Maybe better.

Yes, you heard me female fronted. Candace Kucsulain is not the singer ‘cos she’s a trophy singer like Angela Gossow, or because she’s scene revered like Karen Crisis, but because her painful screech is vicious, primal and draining. It’s the kind of scream I picture women make when they are truly and immeasurably pissed off or terrified – I mean like “someone has taken my baby” hysterically upset, its kind of disturbing actually. She rarely lets up her vocals assault, and this time the lyrics are penned from a much more personal standpoint. She occasionally lets some punkish clean singing back her snarl, bit other wise she’s PMS’ing the whole frigging album.

Her sidekicks, while a little in her vocal shadow, have upped the ante a bit in the riff department also, the obviously Slayer inspired take on hardcore is now a little more identifiable as its own beast rather than a blatant rip-off. Every single song on All Hail the Dead is either shreddingly merciless or broods with pulsing metal malevolence. And I mean every song. For example, the jerky riffing of the title track is like a train stuttering down a track with carriage off the rail, and I like the way the guitars go from speaker to speak in true old school hardcore style. From that track onwards the album doesn’t let up, from choppy thrash gallop (“A Little Piece of Me”) through perkier punkish riffs laced with strychnine (“There’s No I in Fuck You”), to massive breakdowns (“Thanks for the Memories”), to songs that contain all of the afore mentioned elements (“Fixing Broken Hearts”), it’s a caustic yet entertaining, complete listen.

As an outfit, Walls of Jericho has tightened up tenfold since the sometimes sloppy debut, and bolstered by a gnarly production the breakneck sections are razor sharp and with Candace’s venomous voice, come across as a banshee led squad of WW2 fighter planes screaming in on a strafing run. The album’s best cut is the scathing yet catchy “Revival Never Goes Out of Style” with one of the most rousing riffs I’ve ever heard along with Candace layering her scowling voice with a biting clean voice and its shout-a-long finale condemning the silence of the scene now its become popular: Now we finally have a voice and no one says a FUCKING WORD!

Rare moments of sonic sobriety such as the four minute (virtually epic) “1:43 AM” and instrumental album closer “To Be Continued” (I Hope), still drip with malcontent and rending emotion, the whole affair is pretty unforgiving. The second great album I’ve heard in as many weeks (the other being Swarm of the Lotus), 2004 looks to be headed for great things. Great stuff.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 24th, 2004

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