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Swim The Mind | Waterfall Walls

Album review by John Powell

The Fifth Business | Time of Year

Don’t be fooled by the Rockville, CT quartet Swim the Mind, whose band name and first LP Waterfall Walls elicit thoughts of grace, fluidity, and relaxation. This eleven-song set is alternative metal at its richest.

If Tool’s bassist Paul D’Amour, Pearl Jam’s guitarist Stone Gossard, and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails had a love child, it would come out screaming like Swim the Mind, who take the fundamentals of rock, (ever-moving guitar and bass lines, switched up drum patterns, and mostly unintelligible lyrics sung with passion), and pieced together a cohesive mix of straight up noise and moments of delicious instrumental precision.

For an opener, “The Drought” has a crash cymbal lead in, a tortured rhythm, and singer Nick Constant repeating, with ever evolving horror, “This drought will not end/pull us all in.” Alex Giosa slams his drum kit like he’s taming a three-headed lion-beast. The guitar soars off into pedal effect Heaven.

Once we reach “Regret”, however, we hear another side of Swim the Mind. It’s a bit groovier and has a splintering guitar riff. “Another bridge is burned/Destroy the way you came,” Nick sings through gritted teeth. Then Alex drives the song home. He’s an absolute animal behind the drum kit.

In fact, Alex ties the whole album together. His kicks fly up wickedly quick- a nice heartbeat behind Adam Stetson’s bass, a low-end muck, which is absolutely wonderful for this sound. Cisco Bravo has a seemingly endless supply of rock riffs that he pieces together with strands of effect-driven hocus-pocus. The focused forward movement of the band, led by the juggernaughty guitar riffs, keeps this album going, because my biggest complaint is that the songs are slightly indulgent. I get the sense they are so in tune with their songs they want to explore every possible avenue, but this creates five and six minute songs, which is too long for an album like this. Even “Her Last Song”, a music journey through introspection and neo-metal, could have a whole minute edited off. A tighter album would do them good.

The first half of the album explores various kinds of hardcore, but it’s the second half of Waterfall Walls that allows the band’s true potential to open up. “Her Last Song” is a hauntingly gorgeous build up of accusation. “This is what you chose,” Nick sings plainly, “and now she’s dead and gone.” It’s a highlight because Nick finally presses his voice to its full potential. He has a great quiet bellow, but there are times throughout Waterfall Walls when you’re sure he’s going to hit a high note, and fails to. Here, he gives in and cuts loose. He doesn’t rely on screaming. He tackles interesting melodies.

The album’s key track is “The Groove System”, with a catchy guitar riff accentuated with hand percussion. It’s actually a radio-ready track, the song lightest in feeling, driven by a funky bass jaunt- by far the most approachable.

Overall, what you find is a band ready to take up the void Rage Against the Machine, Korn, and NIN left behind at the turn of the millennium. That, along with the naked sorceress standing in a pool of water on the cover, make Waterfall Walls a nice album for the hardcore listener.


 

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