Album Review: East of the Wall – “NP-Complete”

Lost in translation

Prog metal aesthetics are a very particular thing, a weird combination of the obvious, the opaque and the just plain cheesy. To wit, I have no idea what the diorama on the cover of NP-Complete is supposed to represent, what the title means, or why the otherwise excellent first single from the otherwise excellent new East of the Wall album is called “Fast-Bang Pooper Doop.”

Their first album in six years moves even further in the prog direction than their earlier, more metalcore-influenced work (although the geometric riffs clearly have math-metal in their ancestry). While Matt Lupo’s harsh vocals make appearances, Greg Kuter’s laid-back Mark Lanegan drawl takes front-and-center, pushing them closer to the Radiohead side of the prog spectrum than Between the Buried and Me. For the first time, they went into the recording sessions with two guitarists instead of three, giving the songs more space. They stretch out nicely in that extra room, letting the aggression of “The Almost People” burn itself out in the void and giving more introspective pieces like “Tell Them I’m Sorry” the chance to let the melancholy seep into the surrounding music. Even though they’ve since added a third guitarist, it’s a nice change of pace.

NP is a strong work, one that uses its twisty structures and time changes to complement the emotional themes instead of just showing how many notes the band can fire off. It’s nice to hear a band doing something different with the genre, even if the listener doesn’t always understand what it means.