"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Walken - "Walken" (CD)

Walken - "Walken" CD cover image

"Walken" track listing:

1. Watch it Burn
2. Nadir
3. Running Out of Time
4. Thunder Paws
5. Bitter Red
6. In the City of No Seasons
7. Dylan's Song
8. Right at Home
9. 1/21/07
10. Beast Toker
11. The Bridge

Reviewed by on February 15, 2010

"When they're thrashing, these guys manage to create some interesting sounds. It's when they dip too much into the prog-rock realm — and that happens a lot — that the album becomes uninteresting."

I expect to experience a lot of emotions when I listen to a metal album — but boredom isn't one of them. Unfortunately, that's the one I experienced most when listening to Bay Area bashers Walken's self-titled album.

Walken's sound could best be described as progressive thrash. When they're thrashing, these guys manage to create some interesting sounds. It's when they dip too much into the prog-rock realm — and that happens a lot — that the album becomes uninteresting.

On the positive side, I have to give the band credit for their instrumental chops. Guitarists Sean Kohler and Max Doyle obviously know their way around the fretboard, as does bassist Shane Bergman. If Bergman and Kohler's vocals sometimes lack a little polish, well, that's thrash for you — and not that major a concern, given how much precedence the instrumental passages are given on this disc. In fact, there are three songs — "Thunder Paws," "Dylan's Song" and "The Bridge" — that have no words at all!

Things start out promisingly with "Watch it Burn," a mighty thrasher that gives drummer Zack Farwell a workout and seamlessly transitions into "Nadir," which features a Maiden-esque opening riff. Unfortunately, "Nadir" is also the tune in which the album's over-dependence on long instrumental passages becomes clear. It wouldn't be a problem if they weren't so repetitive.

"Running Out of Time" improves things a bit, but the instrumental "Thunder Paws" is mostly a slow slog that will have you glancing at your watch less than a quarter of the way in. "Bitter Red," which follows it, starts out as a thrasher, and then slows up and stretches on and on, but I like the Geezer Butler tone Bergman's bass has.

The album's absolute low point is the eight-and-a-half-minute closer, "The Bridge," which drones on and on, with little in the way of melody.

It's a shame that a band this talented instrumentally couldn't tighten things up to make a more interesting album. There are enough interesting moments sprinkled throughout the disc that it's obvious that they're capable of something better. As it is, though, I'd that everyone but those who love long, repetitive instrumental passages walk away from Walken's self-titled album.

Highs: "Watch it Burn," "Running Out of Time" and Bergman's bass line on "Bitter Red."

Lows: Seemingly endless repetitive instrumental passages make this album feel longer than its 49 minutes.

Bottom line: Some interesting moments, but too many long, dull instrumental passages make this one to avoid.

Rated 2.0 out of 5 skulls
2.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)