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Truth Cult – Walk the Wheel Review

Punk rock that hits the dissonance right in the feels, then rocks the stadium with them

What does Truth Cult sound like?

Visceral punk with a rowdy muddy grunge edge.

The review of Truth Cult – Walk the Wheel

There is something abundantly freeing about ‘Walk the Wheel’, the new album from Baltimore punk band Truth Cult. Smashing in 11 tracks in under 28 minutes, the band enjoy spinning different ideas like bottles that make a striking impression, leave an indelible mark on you and then quickly move on to the band’s next pose. Yet this album has seen Truth Cult slowing down. Their previous works contained lots of sub-2-minute rock ditties. Fun, chaotic and raw – yes. It seems like as the band added an extra member, they took stock of adding extra time to their tracks too.

photo of Truth Cult
Truth Cult

Part of Truth Cult’s charm is that they refuse to make a straightforward riff that doesn’t veer off track into a minor key or note clunk. They remind me of a band called Skeleton Key who added a near-comedic clunk to many of their riffs. Truth Cult’s approach is similar but they mesh it into something far more visceral, speedy and fluid. For example, the three-chord riff for ‘Heavy Water’ chugs with sturdy boots but the guitar riff is running amok. Add on the multiple vocal layers that range from punky rasps, sassy rock chick and retro emo and you have plenty going on in under three minutes. Other tracks like the emo/stadium rock hybrid ‘Clearskin’ pack in so much in 100 seconds it feels like a condensed EP. ‘Unstoppable’ on the other hand relishes letting the simple riff roll out like an extra punk-styled Belly track. Everything here screams early 90s classic alt radio anthems and I’m here for it.

Truth Cult also come from the production garage of “make it grizzly and a bit messy, but not too much”. ‘Awake, Asleep’ is a celebratory explosion of big drums, a central guitar riff that sounds like the song is permanently on a bridge and big vocal layers. It wouldn’t sound like a big stadium moment with too much grunge in the mix but nothing sounds clean either. Spot the rare insertion of a piano too. How many other pure punk bands would dare add some ivories in? Playful in a different vibe, ‘Kokaine Kommando’ is infused with cabaret jauntiness behind the punk aesthetic. It’s a standout in an album full of them.

That said, ‘Naked in the End’ is the standout overall. It was the song I discovered Truth Cult and it remains my favourite on the album. The song embodies everything I love about alternative music: catch riffs, a moshable beat, a cascade of melancholic anger and some amazing vocals. How the vocalists manage to shout perfectly out of key sadly to the guitar melody in such an affecting way still amazes me. It also forces me to pop it on repeat too. ‘What is Time?’ and ‘Resurrection’ make up the core trio of alt anthems on the album and they all shine differently. ‘What is Time?’ is probably the most commercially catchy on the album with sensible riffs, suitably punchy vocals and a cleaner edge to the rock. ‘Resurrection’ plays with a reduced, higher octave bass to minimise the low end and give the track a holier-than-thou feel.

Like a real cult, there are elements of devotional crescendos across the album which would give catharsis to any punk lover. Interestingly, the closing track ‘Medicine’ is the exception. It is a slow-burning repetitive bar for the whole band to play. The vocals get more distorted and unsettled as they switch from murmurs to roars before a single snare shuts the album down.

I really enjoyed Truth Cult’s latest album. Where previously most of their songs struggled to nudge a two-minute mark, here the band (now a quintet) seems comfortable writing longer tracks. With several over three minutes and even the shorter tracks extended, Truth Cult indulge more in their artistic side. With a bigger band, plans and a bigger sound too, ‘Walk the Wheel’ feels like a cementing of a band full of artistic vision and ideas. Long may they reign and long may we scream and jam to them.

Recommended track: Naked in the End

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Truth Cult - Walk the Wheel



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