Walken
"Walken"

(Self-Released 2009)Walken - Walken

Listening to this album, one can’t help but be reminded that it is extremely unnecessary to involve a record company (or any outside influence, really) when it comes to making good music. Just ask Bay Area bangers Walken, who managed to record, press, and package this self-titled effort by their damn selves, and the result is a full sounding, rocker of an album whose quality is in no way indicative of the amount of money thrown behind it.

Walken make thrashy, proggy metal that isn’t too much of either, and really should hold a fairly broad appeal. This is immediately apparent on aptly-titled opener “Watch it Burn,” which sets the table with a burst of tuneful, staccato guitar riffs and huge choruses backed by cavernous drums. This continues over the next 50 minutes, with excursions into melodic, harsh, mellow and slightly jazzy territories. The band is at their best when going full steam; when they slow down the pace they have a tendency to pluck out awkward single notes. This is infrequent, though, and is easy to ignore when it does happen. Also, ignore this lyric from “Bitter Red:” “It’s all the things that are planted on top/like the trees that feed in the water above/they need love.” Good sentiment, kinda weird sung clean. These are nitpicky things, really, and “Walken” has enough chops to satisfy tech nerds, brawn enough to please mouth-breathers, and are full of grooves so big a truck could fall into them.

So while a label isn’t at all required to make music, they can be instrumental in getting anyone to actually hear said music. Diminished influence notwithstanding, the marketing push and tour package inclusion that a label provides can mean the difference between getting your music heard by the masses and getting your music heard by your mother. This makes it all the more impressive that “Walken” found its way to my stereo, and this review is finding its way to your eyes. So maybe strike a vote for the little guy and check Walken out. It helps that the music is top notch too.

B+