Since reviewing 2021’s excellent Tears We Should Have Shed, Walking Bombs aka Morgan Y Evans have put out a few more releases that include both the Humaninanity (can we heal charred landscapes?) and Sugar Pearl/Distinct Instinct single and the Broken Provinces EP. In fact, Spiritual Dreams Above Empty Promises marks the first of several records to be released by Evans in 2023 and coincides with his 30th year of making music, so if you thought you’d heard the last of them, you’d be sorely mistaken.
As per, the album features a multitude of guests including, but not limited to, Globelamp, Taraka Larson, Peter Aaron, Ash Umhhey and of course Gridfailure (Dave Brenner). The artwork by Julie Popescu (@snakes4hair on Instagram) reminds one of the work of Wisconsin-based artist John Craig on the third Smashing Pumpkins album Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness which in turn was inspired by classical art. It’s that good.
A Room Full Of Killers recalls the gothic country of Munly and The Lupercalians, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and 16 Horsepower. Considering the political turmoil of the past year such as the Russia/Ukraine conflict and the ensuing economic fallout, it’s no surprise therefore that Evans sounds so downbeat. Reach For The Light has a classic rock ‘70s vibe that has one thinking of The James Gang with a little extra funk thrown in for good measure, a catchy number with a main riff that is particularly infectious.
Obscure Apostle has a quirky Pixies feel, especially in the vocal department, throw in a little They Might Be Giants/Archers of Loaf and it’s like the ‘90s never really went away. The addition of a trombone leaves you with an oddly satisfying listen in total. Adulation continues the experimental indie/alt-rock of its predecessor with parts resembling the post-rock of Enablers while Gullible has a more melodic hardcore vibe and makes for a welcome change in tempo. The title track, Spiritual Dreams Above Empty Promises, returns us to the acoustic realm and demonstrates Evans‘ seamless ability to convey a powerful message, even when in stripped-down mode.
it is as diverse and captivating as ever and perfectly demonstrable of what keeps me coming back for more as far as Walking Bombs is concerned…
The second half of the album commences with Kettle Corn Bedbugs blistering hardcore punk that reminds me of vintage Nirvana during their less polished and rougher moments, Cynical View meanwhile conveys slacker Dinosaur Jr (Hand It Over era) tendencies, with the soloing particularly reminiscent of J Mascis. Blue Fang, the album’s shortest track at just over a minute and a half, is some pretty neat blues style jamming with spoken word layered over the top.
By contrast, at well over six minutes The War Spectators is the album’s longest and by extension most intriguing track. Helmet sledgehammer riffing is interspersed with rap-metal Orange 9MM/Rage Against The Machine attitude and progressive elements such as the use of Spanish style guitar (Queen’s Innuendo?). This combination of seemingly disparate styles is what stands the track out from the rest and guarantees repeated listening. Shadow Mouth Says is a strange beast, Metallica-ish but with a more ‘80s Ozzy bombast to it and finally the redux version of the aforementioned Humaninanity concludes the record on a brilliantly Creedence Clearwater Revival swampy blues rock related note.
Considering the omnipresent darkness currently enveloping the world and Evans’ own personal tragedy with the passing of his mother (RIP), it’s unsurprising there is a more sombre tone to Spiritual Dreams Above Empty Promises. Musically however it is as diverse and captivating as ever and perfectly demonstrable of what keeps me coming back for more as far as Walking Bombs is concerned.
Scribed by: Reza Mills