RED BEARD WALL
Self-Titled – CD//DD
Argonauta Records – Release Date May 12th, 2017
Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker
We all know how things are done down Texas way, don’t we? Everything is blown up and bigger than life, done up right in a massive way or it isn’t done at all. That philosophical application seems to also be the mission statement of the newest release from the Lone Star State’s Red Beard Wall. The 9-song self-titled effort will be released through Argonauta Records on May 12th and it very well might change the whole game of how music fans view Post-Rock. Of course I label said record as ‘Post-Rock’ but truth is, there is a shit-ton lot more going on in this thing, everything from Noise Rock to Sludge to Grunge and Alternative, just to name a few.
Red Beard Wall has been a true labor of love for the duo currently behind the wall itself, vocalist/guitarist Aaron Wall and drummer George Trujillo. It has been a little over a year now since RBW issued the 3-song self-titled Demo back in ’16 and in that time, the guys have really perfected their sound. You really have no clue what to expect as the feedback-ringing intro of first cut ‘Beauty In‘ heralds the arrival of downtuned riffs and slamming kit-work. Quickly a groove is found and explored to the hilt with a little mid-tempo flare at hand and there it remains for the duration of this instrumental introduction. Exiting out with some more feedback and then, before you know it, the explosive ‘I Am‘ takes over. Reminiscent of some Nineties’ era Pacific Northwest grunge bands, the track is a lulling foray into a bit of hazy alt. rock. The juxtaposing vocal styles, one minute clean and melodic, the next screaming and angst-y, remind you there’s an aspect of aggression ever-present beneath the surface. Intensity comes soaring inward with several of the other songs here too, ones like ‘Switching Circuits‘ and ‘Bottom Of A Well‘ (streaming below) are constructed on controlled aggression. They’re fluid and manage to touch all the bases when it comes to melding multiple styles together with strength and cohesion.
For me personally, I really took to the middle segment of the record especially the triple threat of ‘Alive‘, ‘Born With A Hammer‘ and ‘Top Of The Mountain‘. ‘Alive‘ has a very carefree or uplifting quality about it, very groove-oriented but with a lighter vibe permeating its playing time. It repeatedly brings to mind Local H for me..and that is a damn good quality if you ask me. On the opposite side of that spectrum is the pummeling ‘Top of The Mountain‘, a volatile cut that rides the rhythmic rails straight to the pinnacle of Mt. Anger. Things begin to crest with the hypnotic lyrical rhymes that narrate the next to last track, ‘March In Time‘. It has a Southern Metal-meets-Satanic-Surf Rock type of content, not to mention its very own take on an abrasive breakdown about mid-way through. Things come full circle with the ending track ‘Beauty Out‘, a reprise of the instrumental start that kicked off this aural trek. The gravity-generating grooves pull you back down into place as you begin to stumble from the stupor of what you’ve just listened to.
I won’t try to bullshit you or lay a bunch of undue hype on you here because, truth is, Red Beard Wall is somewhat minimalist in nature. It’s a bit stripped down and as such, it refuses to rely on a bunch of razzle-dazzle studio trickery to make you think you’re hearing something you actually aren’t. No, instead it, and the duo themselves, just lay all their cards out in front of you and ask you to check them out. They don’t need sleight of hand tricks placed within their audio gamble because they are confident they’ve covered the spread and in truth, they have.