10 Jul 2020
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These Four Walls - Album Review: This Is Not A Future

15 Apr 2020 // A review by Kris Raven

These Four Walls, a household name in NZ rock since the mid 2000's, the now Australian-based alt rock four piece are about to release their third album This Is Not A Future and the timing feels eerily perfect, an album name never seemed more real right now. 

Beginning with The Sound, the opening lyric "All my life I've lived this song" is a hauntingly introverted revelation that gives you an indication on where this album will take you. This album is incredibly personal to the band, throughout and for lyricist and vocalist/guitarist Steve Gibb, it reflects on many of life's struggles, personally, internally and externally and how they are felt on the global stage. The realities of our mental health in the modern sphere, loss and addiction are just some of the main narratives that run throughout the 13-track opus. This album being released during one of the world's craziest years, really puts a lot into perspective, where everything from the news, social media and isolation have brought us into another new era, living during a pandemic and dealing with all that goes with it in our modern society.

Music is always something that can help us through the hardest of times and T4W have delivered a thought provoking, well-crafted and for a lot of people, well overdue, album that feels like it has come at a time where people need music more than anything. Stacked with four huge previously released singles, the most recent being Chaos, this song really sets the tone for the record, groovy, driving and passionate. Gibb's vocals soar gloriously one minute and then turn to controlled screamed tones the next,  there is a lot to be said, and a lot of emotion. The 2019 single, Fire Away is a real highlight for me, from the marching drum intro, to the massive harmonies in the chorus with lead guitarist Gray Vickers' lush guitar lead melodies intertwined with Gibb's punchy vocals, all ending with some huge groove-downs.

2018’s Over and Over, has a really cool post hardcore/emo vibe to it, reminding me of bands like Silverstein, where they balance pop sensibilities with alternative rock and metal. It's another big album highlight and I am only three songs in; the chorus is addictive & memorable, and there is a sparking unison between the high notes of the guitar melody and the continuing vocal hooks. This partnership between Vickers and Gibb is an essential component in the creation of their music.  

Slow is a big old fat groove song, Elliot Burton's bass really booms throughout, it's like a polished dirty bass tone and it makes the riffs throughout sound huge as it rumbles underneath and carries the song. Before I'm Gone is my favourite song on the album, it's beautifully written and performed, the acoustic guitars with the subtle drums and orchestration serve as a platform for Gibb's incredible and powerful vocal melodies, there is a big pop feel in the production and I love how it grows with the strings and drums and bass over time. The lead guitar is delicate and the perfect balance of sounding momentous but not overplayed.

Knots then goes opposite the way, aggressive riffs, fast drums and manic rhythms. Some of the guitar tones on this song are magic, including an awesome guitar solo, coming out of the bridge which starts with some tonally sonic guitar chords. The lyrics are dark and real, "we can share tomorrow, if we share the sorrow" . Bravery from 2016 was their first new music since 2012’s Living To Write The End, and the first with bassist Elliot Burton. Huge groove and bounce to this song with sing along lyrics "Put the brave into bravery"; solid and driving musically throughout. Silent War builds quietly, before ramping up into a pulsing anthemic stomper. Gibb is a little more restrained vocally as he sings out "Bring me your wounded" and there is some great technical interplay between the drums and bass in the verses.

Rock Bottom is a slow jam. It has a little Chris Issak feel in the guitar tone with the guitar solo reminding me of Nels Cline of Wilco fame; it's classy controlled chaos with an overall grunge blues feel. Also, I am always a sucker for that tremolo picking! White Lies is a very T4W track with Gibb's heavyweight chorus and bold and bright bass tones driving the verses. The outro gets nice and heavy and the vocals more and more aggressive, like Zach De Roacha commanding at the podium and then all hell breaks loose, going full fight song, screamed vocals and ending with big chugging riffs and pounding drums. 

Strands is among one of the many drum tracks that highlights drummer Brad Vickers, with Burton he performs as a well-oiled machine but has shining moments of perfectly executed fills, and in Strands it shows a lot of his diversity as a drummer. Balancing the solid with the flair, both Burton and Vickers keep these songs grooving and driving while Gibb and Gray Vickers layer with exceptional guitar work and ultimately laying foundations for Gibbs phenomenal voice that shines throughout this album. Adding to this they worked with a production team with dream resumes, producer Luke Palmer (Dead Letter Circus, Sky Harbour) and mix/master engineer Matt Bartlem (Dead Letter Circus) as well adding piano and strings to add that extra depth and 'right in the heart/ shivers' moments that radiate particularly on Before I'm Gone, and the first and final tracks.

Nothingland is the last track, and just a really cool name for a song. The orchestration and piano I got a real Westworld vibe, which really ties in with a lot of the themes of the album (if you have seen the show you will get my drift). It’s quite an epic way to end the album too and I can not highly recommend enough listening to this in full (something we don't do as much these days). The quality song writing, production and performance is exceptional and I would expect nothing less from these seasoned pros. Get listening, and when you can, go and buy this album, it’s a huge highlight for 2020!

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About These Four Walls

These Four Walls are a hard rock band originally formed in Auckland, New Zealand and now based on Queensland’s Gold Coast. They’ve recorded and released two full-length albums, Down Falls an Empire (2009) and Living to Write the End (2012), with their third album This Is Not A Future due for release on 24 April, 2020.

The band are well-known in both Australia and New Zealand for their live shows, which are typically tight, heavy and high-powered performances punctuated by powerful melodic vocals from singer Steve Gibb. Their well-earned reputation as a powerhouse live act has earned the band support slots for several touring international acts including Disturbed (USA), Nickelback (CAN), Trivium (USA), Seether (SA), P.O.D. (USA), Fuel (USA), Theory of A Deadman (CAN) and Trapt (USA), as well as top Australian rock acts Karnivool and The Butterfly Effect, and Kiwi bands such as Devilskin and Blacklistt.


Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for These Four Walls

Releases

This Is Not A Future
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Live At Loose Stones Studios
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Living To Write The End
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Down Falls An Empire
Year: 2009
Type: Album
These Four Walls
Year: 2007
Type: EP

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