Black Walls

Album review: Black Walls, Acedia

Black Walls' Ken Reaume (who formerly performed and recorded as VIVIV), names Mark Kozelek and Black Sabbath as influences. His 2012 album Acedia weaves heavy lyrical content, skillful classical guitar playing, and ominous chords into a deep collage of emotion and open ended personal stories, building a modern mythology that's both unpretentious and vulnerable.

Acedia, carefully produced by Black Walls and Brandon Hocura and mastered by James Flames, appeared in April of this year, but it's fitting Black Walls' mentality that we're just reviewing it now. This isn't the kind of fleeting music that demands immediate attention: Acedia is a slow, creeping sound that knows its own power and doesn't push to the forefront, leaving it up to us to do the rest.

Demons, childhood memories, religious imagery and celebrity skate boarders flicker in and out of view as Acedia looms dark and enclosing as Reaume's overwhelming sleeve cover illustration. While each track is moving, 10 minute long "Pines" finally giving way to the sound of lapping waves is an especially lovely moment, and both "Hiatus" and "Sun to Rise"'s soft percussion and lively guitar highlight Reaume's gentle vocal inflections.

To see Reaume pouring himself out over his guitar live is difficult to achieve dry-eyed, and on record there is a chilling sense that Reaume is present as an invisible, sad specter somewhere in the corner of the room, recalling the most tender acoustic moments of Twinsistermoon or Natural Snow Buildings. Be warned: Black Walls' spirit will linger long after the album has ended, a hardcore tee clothed Casper for the modern world.

Acedia is available on white vinyl through Toronto's Pleasence Records, or on Bandcamp.

Christmas Addendum:

Just released: a new metal-tinged Holiday track for free from Black Walls: "Gabriel's Message".


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