Catchy Metal Tunes

Detroit's Walls of Jericho sound pretty much exactly as you'd expect an American band on Trustkill/Roadrunner to sound: they're metalcore through and through. This equates to an album of stop/start low-string thuggery on the guitars, pounding bass drum patterns and vein-bursting vocals mixed with a hefty dose of Gothenthrash worship (they even have a song called 'The Haunted', for God's sake). It's a crowded genre at the moment, but Walls of Jericho have been doing it longer than most, and in a sense complaining about them making a metalcore record is a bit like complaining about Anthrax making a thrash metal one.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band, Walls of Jericho's main distinguishing feature is the presence of a woman behind the microphone. Not that you're able to tell, most of the time: Candace Kucsulain spends the majority of this album shouting like a particularly belligerent guest on "The Jerry Springer Show". In a scene increasingly populated by eyeliner wearing little boys screaming their lungs out in an effort to assert their pubescent masculinity, Candace's high-pitched howl doesn't actually sound so out of place - although it has a hell of a lot more personality and confidence than most. The band has undergone a change of line-up and have a new drummer in the form of one-time Premonitions of War skinsman Dustin Schoenhofer, but this makes little difference to their sound - any trace of character has been triggered and processed out of the drum tracks so that it could be just about anyone occupying the stool.

There's one thing Walls of Jericho have definitely got right: most of the tracks on this album are under three-and-a-half minutes long, and the total running time is an attention span-friendly 35 minutes. Another factor in the band's favour is their knack for writing belting, anthemic choruses which are seemingly purpose-built to get the crowds hollering along in the live arena, although the constant use of 'gang vocals' to hammer this point home gets a little tiresome. Like most subgenres of metal, metalcore is written to a fairly rigid formula. "With Devils Amongst Us All" generally has little intention of breaking rules until it reaches its ninth track, 'No Saving Me'. This is a slow-burning number with unusually breathy vocals from Candace and the clean guitar picking almost drowned out by layers of orchestral strings. When the guitar solo erupts you are instantly put in mind of Metallica's 'Nothing Else Matters' to the extent where you half expect to hear James Hetfield's "yeah yeah!" But for the most part you gets what you paids for.

Really, with its glossy production, short songs and hooky choruses, "With Devils Amongst Us All" is extreme metal as pop music, and I don't necessarily mean that as an insult. Metalcore fans doubtless already know the band's stuff, but if you're new to the genre then you could do a lot worse than making this album one of your starting points.