Watch East of the Wall’s video for punchy, sludge-rock song “Unfamiliar Glass Ceilings”
NJ progressive sludge metallers East of the Wall are nearing the release of their new album A Neutral Second, and we're now premiering second single "Unfamiliar Glass Ceiling." It's a towering, riffy song that finds the band focusing on their loud, hook-driven side and toning down the proggy soundscapes, and its subject matter deals with hardships specifically faced by women, the queer/trans communities, and other minorities. Vocalist/bassist/guitarist Chris Alfano sheds more light on the lyrics, the song structure, and the song's two guest vocalists:
Musically, this is the closest thing we have to a straight-ahead rock song. There’s no quiet, jazzy interludes or long, meandering passages - just four minutes with a couple choruses and loud the whole time. The ending wound up being one of the ugliest and most aggressive sections of the record; it’s always fun when we can bust out the tri-tones flat-fifth intervals to let our metallic hardcore side shine through.
In terms of guest musicians, we have a pair of additional vocalists providing the texture - along with Greg, Matt, and myself (Chris) - on the second verse: Craig Cirinelli and Joe Pfeiffer, both of whom go way back with us. Craig, currently of the bands Flowers for War, The Atlantic Union Project, and Damn This Desert Air, was the vocalist for our drummer Seth’s previous band Sovenskya (which was also a predecessor to a band that Seth and I were both in, NY in 64). Meanwhile, Joe was the co-guitarist/singer in East of the Wall guitarist/vocalist Greg Kuter’s previous bands Fake Gimms and Zombie Club America. In a way, you could look at it as a waste of talent to pull in two incredible singers just to do mostly-unison backing vocals for a verse. But the idea was to have a sonic bed of comradery, just layer it with several of our friends.
I think that comradery concept was appealing because it offset the subject matter, which deals with people facing hardship in isolation. More specifically, I was thinking about the hardships that women especially tend to slam up against in the toxic, anonymous online hellscape of our current era. Traditionally, the concept of a glass ceiling is, well, a ceiling - people in power stopping someone’s forward advance. And those patriarchal structures are of course still in place. But there’s a second pull from below - lonely, bitter, hateful people that will take advantage of their mostly faceless online existence to gang up and harass people, take them down, and generally make people’s lives miserable. There are of course all kinds of outliers and exceptions, but it tends to especially flow to women, minorities, the queer/trans communities, etc. Like in most of our lyrics, I don’t have any great solutions - but at the very least I can try to empathize and call some attention to it.
Listen and watch the Michael Englisis-created video below. The album drops 6/30 via Translation Loss. Pre-order it here.
Catch East of the Wall in NYC on April 22 at Gold Sounds with Strega Nona, Semaphore, Lastima, and The Astral Cadence.