Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Album Review: Walking With Giants - "Worlds Unknown"

Walking With Giants is the epithet of Gary Noon, multi-instrumentalist and hard rock songwriter, a man who lays down his own brand of rock while at the same time being publicly indebted to his favorite musicians.  His debut full-length album “Worlds Unknown,” allows those two lines to cross, as the album is idiomatically the work of Noon, but assisted by contributions of musicians from some of Noon’s idols, Sevendust and Alter Bridge

The thrust of this new album is that Noon once again wants to give his listeners a record of accessible rock that is pleasantly free of pretense and the lowest common denominator.  As a bonus, Walking With Giants is trying to uplift the mood of those around them, asking the listener to shut out all the negative influence he or she is surrounded by and instead take inspiration from within to forge a better tomorrow.  It sounds a little melodramatic, but in a world where popular rock radio suffered a mighty blow with the coming of Nickelback’s drivel and the meandered yelping of that band’s associated musical army, it’s a refreshing twist to see someone make hard rock have another message again.

What strikes most on the positive side of the ledger for “Walking With Giants” is that the album is expertly arranged and presented, particularly for a debut.  Noon is clearly taking his time and making sure that the product is properly rendered to his satisfaction, which denotes an admirable attention to detail.  From the very opening of “World Unknown Part 1” and into “Broken Truth,” there is a logical flow of the pieces that speaks to craft and patience.  All of these songs from first to last are free of shortcuts and layer the music in a way that appeals to the ear.

Walking With Giants hits all the necessary check marks that one expects, but where it stops is in going beyond those check marks.  “Worlds Unknown” to turn a phrase, never punches the listener in the face or displays an immediacy that would lend the experience a tangible edge.  “Back to Life” would have benefited greatly from an unbridled emotional push and the song could have accomplished this without abandoning the confines of this style of music.  The guitar of “Guilty One” is layered with a potentially tasty riff, but it lacks in bite, never reaching beyond the threshold to get into the listener’s kitchen.  Anyone hoping for a touch of righteous aggression from the fairly articulate Walking With Giants will be listening for a long while.

So what we really have here is a perfectly acceptable hard rock record that satisfies all the necessary requirements of same and is an easy, pleasant listen.  The other side of that same coin is that Walking With Giants does not challenge the listener and does not endeavor to push the envelope in any special direction.  “Worlds Unknown” doesn’t have to do that as a prerequisite for being enjoyable, but a little more urgency might have gone a long way.

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