Prog Metal Futurists East of the Wall Reveal Non-Metal Influences

NP – Complete — the upcoming opus from powerhouse New Jersey prog metallers East of the Wall out via Translation Loss on March 29 — covers an astonishing amount of ground musically, conceptually, and emotionally, delivering a high-level, virtuosic synthesis without ever losing its heavy metal heart and soul.

After immersing ourselves in the strange and beguiling world of this record, we had a hunch that the creators of such a deft amalgamation might have drawn inspiration from some nontraditional wells…and we were right. The band was kind enough to send along the following list of outside the metal realm influences that help inform its own unique take on heaviness…

1. Bjork

Post and Homogenic came out during my teenage years, right around the time when my friends and I were really starting to experiment with all types of music. Bjork was so stellar for me at that point because she was doing so much off the wall, totally out there stuff, but it was all so musical and catchy to the extreme. You could have a very personal listening session alone, discovering the intricacies and intimacy she poured into her music. Or you could croon along to those very same songs with your friends in the car. I actually followed in Helmet’s footsteps at one point and covered one of her tunes, “Enjoy.” I sang like a girl and added a rap verse over it. No, you will never hear it. — Matt Lupo (Guitar, Trumpet, Vocals, and Synths)

2. Cinematic Orchestra

I listened to “Man With a Movie Camera” as an iTunes recommendation through DJ Shadow and Bjork in 2003. With only a handful of people in the audience, I watched the band deliver one of the most powerful live performances I’ve ever seen. In my opinion, they tastefully incorporate Jazz, Electronic, and Hip hop. Above all else, Cinematic Orchestra really tickles my Jazz bone. — Seth Rheam (Drums)

3. Sergei Rachmaninoff Symphony no.2

I’m cheating with this one. It’s metal. The first movement is so dark, brooding, downtrodden, and it moves soooo slowly. It sort of lumbers through this glacial spiral upwards, then angles back down before working up the courage to climb upwards again, but again….slowly. It eventually crescendos with the slightest hint of melancholy, but immediately turns back downward and just sinks lower yet again. The darkness refuses to concede. See? Metal. — Lupo

4. Kurt Vonnegut

Okay, so I guess this sounds ridiculous, but a writer is my biggest musical influence. Yeah, like an author writer. When I try to look at East of the Wall at a macro level? At the general thesis and methodology — at what we’re trying to achieve? It all goes back to Kurt Vonnegut. He’s the one that taught me to go for ideas, but keep it accessible. Get quirky as hell while remaining poignant. Explode tradition, just blow it to pieces, but don’t lose the hooks. Don’t be afraid of an outrageous gimmick so long as you retain the human core. Constantly reinvent yourself – each work a distinct, singular entity, and yet never deny the essence of your artistic voice. Shoulder the weight of an epoch from moment one of your earliest work. It’s all Vonnegut. Hi ho. — Chris Alfano (Bass, Vocals, and Synths)

5. Aphex Twin

Nothing runs the gamut like Come to Daddy. It’s all over the place: nefarious bass lines, then mellow chill outs, then technical wizardry, then weird or lighthearted jaunts. All of it stellar. This and Ambient Works Vol. 2 were some of the first electronic music that I really delved deep into. I still dabble in ambient/experimental stuff and have been doing so more recently with a little improv noise side project called Stronds. — Lupo

Photo by Scott Kinkade.