After ten years without an album, post-hardcore icons As Cities Burn are back with the superbly compelling Scream Through The Walls. Despite the suggestiveness of the title, the record often feels like a fittingly very carefully measured project, in which there’s a sense that every note has a clear and displayed line of thought behind it. Even within the context of the music scene that they themselves helped jumpstart with their work from the early 2000s, the band feel like this time around, they’re striking out into a unique path. They situate their work to feel more in line with telling an emotional story of turmoil with hints of triumph rather than checking off all the boxes on some kind of checklist, and it suits them well. Scream Through The Walls feels like it’s about the immersive emotional journey accompanying the engaging, mostly quite melodic but intense songs that As Cities Burn are playing. As such, the record almost instantly feels like it jumps out with a compelling lure.
A few key elements help symbolize the unique ground that As Cities Burn are operating on with their new album. TJ Bonnette is back after having not contributed to recordings since the band’s debut all the way back in 2005, and like on that first As Cities Burn record, on Scream Through The Walls, he screams alongside his brother Cody, who performs the clean vocals. Each vocalist gets a real chance to shine, ensuring that nothing on the record really feels like a gimmick. The band are really opening the door for the individual contributors to give it their all, and in both the screamed and clean vocals, there’s a clear emotional urgency and you can hold these songs close to your chest with ease.
The band present their instrumentation through the same sort of careful but illuminating filter, building up to a deserved and satisfying musical payoff with their rather especially intense concluding tracks that musically get right up in your face and approach a kind of melodic hardcore like you might expect from a band like Counterparts. As Cities Burn don’t arrive at this point without first examining softer, more open ground, though, like that symbolized by the track “Blind Spots,” which while mostly driven by electric beats, fits very well and features the same kind of full, earthy tones that are found elsewhere on the record.
Scream Through The Walls ultimately proves a top of the line examination and illumination of the modern environment, asking you to look at your world — personally and more broadly — a little more closely.