Atlanta’s very own alternative metal powerhouse Sevendust celebrated the release of their debut album, self-titled Sevendust, by performing the entire album live in front of a packed crowd at the very sweaty Masquerade (Heaven) stage. The band, lead singer Lajon Witherspoon, guitarists John Connolly and Clint Lowery, bassist Vinnie Hornsby and drummer Morgan Rose, were surrounded by family and friends throughout the show, and the vocal Atlanta crowd gave back massive amounts of love in appreciation.
The hammer strikes down dramatically, ringing deep and continuous. A piano, alone, carries a melody to our hungry ears. Within moments, it is joined by the light caress of cymbals and overdriven guitar. All of this, resinating with orchestral strings, leaves us feeling small among its immensity, but anxious as to what awaits. And thus is the start of Walking With Giant’s third offering, but first full length effort, entitled Worlds Unknown. This January 15 release finds frontman Gary Noon, and his studio team, firing on all cylinders.
For those that haven’t been made privy to that great secret which is Walking With Giants, allow me to spill the beans. This Baltimore-based entity is the brainchild of guitarist and vocalist, Gary Noon. With dreams of playing with his heroes, he reached out to Sevendust’s Clint Lowery, as well as Alter Bridge’s Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips, collectively composing two breathtaking EPs, Walking With Giants and One By One. Though Phillips had scheduling conflicts and was thus unable to perform on the team’s first full length album, Sevendust’s Morgan Rose has taken up the sticks without missing a beat.
While Noon and company continue to provide us with a buffet of irresistibly addictive hard rock tracks, the new release is different in that A) it’s longer, and B) it’s buttressed by two halves of the title track. In between the bookends entitled “Worlds Unknown” Parts 1 and 2, we are enveloped in a series of songs that overflow with positive energy! “Broken Truth” and “Back To Life” lift the spirit in tone alone, while hard-hitting powerhouses like “Bound” and “Heavy Hand,” despite dealing with personal struggle, shine through the darkness with words of determination and perseverance. Perhaps the first track that breaks from this mold for Walking With Giants is the tune entitled “Guilty One,” in which Noon struggles with the feeling of being at fault. It takes a strong person to take responsibility for their actions, but the important thing about this song is that though he is made to feel at fault, he never admits defeat. These uplifting lyrics are one of the defining points of Walking With Giants that continue to draw me in time and time again.
By the way, in case it seems that I overlooked it, Worlds Unknown is musically phenomenal. Noon and Lowery join forces once more to construct meatier riffs, larger hooks, and more badass guitar solos than ever before. And from the sheer brutality of “Bound” to the seemingly computerized opening of “The Now,” this album stays fresh. Marshall’s basslines dig in deep and route the direction of Noon and Lowery’s assault, with Rose’s percussive accompaniment fitting in superbly alongside this ensemble. And, my word, the vocal harmonies! Walking With Giants has its own characteristic layer of voices that sail away with the melodic breeze, robust yet soothing to the ear. Worlds Unknown is a stunning new addition to Walking With Giants’ growing catalog, and, to quote “Heavy Hand,” the time has come for the world to see…
On October 2, 2015, Atlanta alternative rock group, Sevendust, will release their 11th studio album entitled Kill The Flaw. While I’m not long-time fan, I do remember jamming out to the album Next in my best friend’s Honda Civic following its release nearly 10 years to this day. I also distinctly remember telling myself that I should pick up their 2010 release, Cold Day Memory, shortly after it had come out, only to fail to do so. Somehow it just seemed appropriate, when the opportunity to check out the new album came across my plate, that I should tell everyone how awesome it is in order to make up for that previous failure. And I assure you, it is awesome.
I can’t offer anyone a comparison to past albums, with the exception of saying that the production on Kill The Flaw is far more polished than Next, but that’s to be expected from an album that has the benefit of arriving a decade after the other. What I can offer is the pleasure of knowing that this is not simply a collection of a few great songs in a batch of lemons. Each track steps up the plate with the intent of knocking your expectations out of the park and not a single one strikes out. Now, I surely have my favorites, which I’ll touch on shortly, but from the opening track, “Thank You,” until the closer, “Torched,” this quintet is relentless in its efforts. This is my first Sevendust experience with original guitarist, Clint Lowery, in the fold. I was already familiar with him from his work with his brother’s (Corey Lowery) band, Eye Empire, to which he contributed compositions, as well as his role as guitarist for Walking With Giants. In fact, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon and drummer Morgan Rose contributed to the former’s debut release as well, but I’m beginning to digress.
Kill The Flaw is an alt. rock behemoth, armed with a concoction of chunking riffs, dissonance and melody, not to mention a tacklebox of hooks. It’s difficult for me to even narrow down what to tell you about, but at this exact moment Lowery is surfing through my ear canal with the melodious-turned-explosive solo of “Forget.” Shortly thereafter, Witherspoon’s voice cascades over that same eardrum with the opening lines of “Letters,” which is as intense as it is emotional, as powerful as it is gentle. On the rest of the album we find piano lead-ins to bone-crunching riffs (“Cease And Desist”), acoustic steel-string goodness with a Southern twang (“Chop”), and just a few moments here and there that bring to mind Static-X, such as haunting, suddenly manifesting screams during “Peace And Destruction.” But let’s go back to “Chop” for a moment, because this has to be my favorite song off the album. There is so much going right here that I can’t figure out, for the life of me, why it wasn’t one of the singles released to promote the record. From the Southern steel-string that winds back and forth with pummeling electric riffs and the soaring vocals, this song just POPS! The Southern-tinged atmosphere adds a down-to-Earth quality, while little touches like the rapid-fire rhythm lick behind the chorus just take it to another level. Not to mention, this track has a contagious groove that permeates through the rest of the album as well.
Sevendust has been releasing albums for the last 18 years and, while I’m not a fan of smoking, this album certainly seems to be lit. From the very first notes until the sound has faded from my ears, I’ve been hooked on this record. If this is what I’ve been missing over the last 10 years then I have some catching up to do. Kill The Flaw finds the band in top form, with no signs of slowing down or running out of things to sing about or pummel into dust. And it certainly sounds like they’re having a blast doing it!
Notes ring off the strings, echoing as if from reverberating bells. Thus is the beginning of Baltimore-based Walking With Giants’ new EP, One By One, set for release on June 21. This promising hard-rock act blew me out of the water last year with its debut, self-titled release. When I heard that a new offering was on the way I immediately contacted singer, songwriter and mastermind, Gary Noon, about the chance to share his musical vision with other like-minded rockers.
Walking With Giants features an all-star cast of musicians. Rejoining Noon once more for his journey is co-writer and guitarist, Sevendust’s Clint Lowery, who continues to produce for the team. Also returning to the fold is Alter Bridge and Creed drummer, Scott ‘Flip’ Phillips. But unlike the debut recording, which found bass duties rotated between Noon and Lowery, we are treated instead with the inclusion of Alter Bridge and Creed bassist, Brian Marshall, who brings a low-end previously unheard.
For those that enjoyed the flavor of the debut EP, you will not be disappointed in the present release. The opening track, “Find Your Way Back,” begins with a feeling of confidence indicative of someone who has already proven his or her worth. Notes ring off the strings, resting atop a powerful, rolling drum beat, courtesy of Flip, that carries the verse into a heightening chorus. If it’s one thing that Walking With Giants has going for it – and it’s not just one thing – it is the amazingly addictive choruses that find their way into each and every song. Noon and Lowery have a knack for writing choruses that catch the ear, but they aren’t slouches on the strings either. The guitar duo have littered the release with hard-hitting riffs and melodies, such as the introductions to “Chasing Light” and “Anything,” the latter housing enough meaty slabs to open up its own butcher shop.
Don’t worry! While there’s plenty of incredible riffage to savor, Noon and crew haven’t forgotten about those of you who long for a sweet respite. “Another Chance” is the somber song with a glimmer of hope that reminds me faintly of the mood found in “Wonderful Life” by Alter Bridge. With its wide-open chords, passionate vocals and swooping solo, it fills the heart with sympathy. I can certainly empathize with Noon, as he sings about trying to keep his mind from racing at the “What if’s” of life and love.
Walking With Giants is well on its way to building a tremendous library of work that is not only well-written, but inspiring as well. Like their debut EP, this latest release shows concern over the darker aspects of life and human character. Yet, there is always an optimistic eye on the horizon, which sees “the darkness fading” as stated in the closing track, “So Far.” This is one of the features that drew me so quickly to the music and has kept me enraptured. One By One is another milestone in this Walking With Giants’ career and one that will hopefully see it gaining some well-earned attention.
I won’t lie. It was the names that caught my interest. But, from the opening notes ringing out in my ears I knew that this would be worth every moment.
Gary Noon – vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and mastermind behind Walking With Giants – is living every fan’s dream: to play with his heroes. What originally began as a tribute to some of his favorite bands soon became something new entirely. After getting in touch through a mutual friend, Gary had the chance to not only become friends with Sevendust guitarist Clint Lowery and Alter Bridge/Creed drummer Scott Phillips, but to collaborate on a project as well. It’s no wonder the band is named Walking With Giants. But Noon is no stranger to playing with internationally acclaimed musicians, previously performing in a band called White Knuckles with Chad Szeliga of Breaking Benjamin and Robb Torres of Trapt.
Heavy, melodic, and reflective. Noon, Lowery, and Phillips have decided to tease our senses with this breakout self-titled EP, with Gary telling us “there’s more to come” in hisinterview with Broken Records Online.You can hear how Noon was inspired by the bands of the other two, though the songs feel more in the vein of Alter Bridge than Sevendust. Considering that I really enjoy both bands, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. And while I like heavy rock songs, it’s really the groove the guys manage to instill in their music that makes it alluring. For instance, a track like “Answers” remind me of the short-lived group Sick Speed from Rich Ward (Fozzy/Stuck Mojo), as it shares the same groove-filled sensibilities and ariose tendencies, which I greatly admire. And speaking of melodies, co-writers Noon and Lowery have really nailed it here, not only in the guitar playing, but in the vocal delivery as well. The guitars convey the melodious theme between the verses, but then step back and let the vocals and chorus really take it the rest of the way – something other aspiring bands should take into consideration. I know I’m not the only one singing along in their car.
Lyrically, as I said, this release is reflective. It revolves around the theme of a life of struggles and mistakes. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Noon writes in a very open way, allowing each track to come across emphatically to the listener. It’s as though he’s not just writing for himself, but speaking out for all of us. As the interview mentioned earlier reveals, the song “Perfect” wasn’t even written with himself in mind, but rather portrays a friend. And really, who doesn’t yearn for a picture-perfect life? We hope that, despite our trials, something wonderful awaits us after the tribulations. And that’s the thing shining through on this album. There’s a positivity in these lyrics that provides a hopeful feeling to those that listen. There’s always time to make a change for the better.
There’s no doubt that veterans Clint Lowery and Scott Phillips have taken Noon to a whole new level. Just watching theproduction videos, you can see how their inclusion has helped expand Gary’s musical horizon. But the core ideas, and the feeling behind them, are all Gary Noon. It’s his love of this music style that has resulted in such a phenomenal debut release, with all its guitar grooves and melodic tastiness. And it’s those features that he’ll keep in mind when he looks for touring musicians for this project, until the time when Lowery and Phillips are able to join him again for a full-length record. Walking With Giants has excited us with a marvelous start and I can’t wait to see where they’ll wind up next.