Brisbane band The Black Walls are what I imagine Tool might sound like if: a. there were more synths (always a plus in my book), b. they were a bit more “rock”-y, and c. they were actually GOOD. And unlike the last two or three Tool albums which well-meaning friends saw fit to subject me to, this EP actually sounds like it was recorded by human beings (ie. “a band”), replete with all the charms – and charming flaws – which real-life humans can bring to this damn-fool nonsense we like to call “music”…as opposed to the uber-slick, ultra-modern production values which create albums which sound like someone pressed “Auto” on a computer program, and presto! Instant record, with nary a glitch nor good (or even notably bad) “idea” in sight. Not to say that this isn’t an impressively-produced piece of work – indeed it’s surprisingly so for an independent band’s first official release – but it’s still got a discernible heart thumping away under all them layers of buzzing synths, buzzsaw guitars and only occasionally “brutal” (praise be for that!) vocals.
Let’s all be grateful that there’s still a handful – okay, probably less – of ostensibly “heavy” bands out there who still know what a “rehearsal room” is, and The Black Walls appears to be one of them. Certainly there’s some ambition towards the Tool school of super-slickness somewhere there, but this remains firmly grounded in a garage-friendly aesthetic wherein rock still meets roll and has a bit of a party…as especially evidenced in hands-down stand-out track “Green Lady”, a song with whopping great balls and a killer instinct to match. Let’s hope that by the time these lads enter the studio for their first long-player they haven’t had all that primal rawk ‘n’ rawl instinct bled out of ’em. I mean, even Tool were half-listenable back when they were writing songs with grimy titles like “Prison Sex”, fer fuck’s sake. There is an inkling of life in the battered and bruised body of the “heavy music” genre yet.
© Michael Bowser, Music Vice