‘Scream Through The Walls’ album review
album: Scream Through The Walls
artist: As Cities Burn
release date: June 7, 2019
star rating: four out of five
review by Levi Yager
As Cities Burn is back from the dead again, and this time they’ve got a bunch of brand new tunes to boot. Their new album Scream Through The Walls has a restless energy and relentless honesty that make for a deeply involving listen. The record also brings former screamer TJ Bonnette back into the fold, making this outing inevitably heavier than the band’s last couple albums.
“Live Convinced” is the first track and one of the most unique on the album. There’s a subtle, sickly sway in the background when the song starts that utilizes some electronics, and it’s soon joined by digitally-processed vocals, harsh screams and weighty drums. The eerie feeling created here is enough to grab your attention – that’s for sure. “Live Convinced” then steadily picks up the pace to become a bristling opener that concludes in epic fashion. The lyrics are as interesting as the musical approach in this song, questioning the assumptions and carelessness we exhibit in our lives.
Moving along, As Cities Burn has much to offer on each succeeding track. There aren’t any obvious misfires, so many tracks will depend a lot on opinion as far as which ones are standouts. Personally, I thought almost every other song really hit the nail on the head, with those in between still being good.
I loved track number three, “2020 AD.” It has a captivating melody in the chorus, with vocalist Cody Bonnette singing, “Has it gotten, gotten out of hand yet?” a few times over. And the interplay between the lead and rhythm guitars gives the song robust character. As a whole, it’s expertly arranged and definitely memorable.
A couple great cuts from the middle of Scream Through The Walls are “Maybe” and “Chains” – the fifth and sixth songs, respectively. “Maybe” is of the slower variety, while “Chains” is a blistering cannon-blast of a track. The melodic aspects of “Maybe,” both musically and vocally, are some of the best on the album. It’s a moody, look-back track that will have you singing your guts out. Then “Chains” explodes onto the tracklisting, brandishing lyrics about vices and futility. As Cities Burn maximizes on the unbridled energy of “Chains” and structures the song in a way that keeps the momentum going all the way through its four-minute run. You just know it’s one for the mosh pit.
I found the last three songs to be highlights as well. Track number eight, “Blind Spots” is quite brief, and it features thrumming bass and a resolute, low-end guitar part. These components are coupled with foreboding clean vocals by Cody that, collectively, create a hypnotic surrounding in the song. It’s a really cool moment on Scream Through The Walls. “Venture” follows, and it focuses on the build, incorporating incessant snare – at times with tambourine – for a percussion-driven track that keeps the listener’s interest piqued. “Die Contrary” is the closing number, and it’s a culmination of the raw emotion that bleeds throughout the album. The lyrics are about the certainty of death and the mystery of salvation, sung (and screamed) by the Bonnette brothers with anxious intensity. The guitar work adds to the effect, spurring the song onward with constant scaling. When “Die Contrary” comes to an end, it does so abruptly, finishing out with faint, echoing vocals of the chorus from the hymn “Jesus Paid It All.” Altogether, it’s a final song that doesn’t fail to leave an impression.
Scream Through The Walls is a triumphant return for As Cities Burn, and it should please any fan of the band. Though As Cities Burn still made amazing music after TJ left, it’s great to have the screams back, and the band sounds better than ever on these recordings. A notable quality of the album is the push and pull between the hard-hitting rhythmic sections and the delicate, atmospheric movements that sometimes overlap each other. This, combined with thought-provoking lyrics and the occasional use of electronic elements, makes for an album that explores often-dark themes in creative ways. I never thought I’d get to hear another studio LP from As Cities Burn, but I’m glad I did.