Walking Rumor – Symbiosis Review

What the fuck is going on lately? The comfortable routine of life as I once knew it has gone the way of disco and the dinosaurs; all I see is sickness and barren swathes of emptiness where everything I need once was, and I’m compelled to avoid the place where once I toiled my days away. In addition to this newfound turmoil at the promo pit, the world itself is in the merciless grip of an invisible enemy—some virus, supposed to be bad for you. Indeed, as the Coronapocalypse rages on, I’m more troubled by the sudden absence of Muppet luck in the promo bin than that of toilet paper at the anywhere, and I mostly blame 4.0ldeneye. Times are tough and it seems they’re only toughening, woe Discordia. Fleeing my cherished black metal hovel was likely the safest bet for a better life, but following that path to nü-metal was almost certainly not. I knew this but I grabbed Walking Rumor’s Symbiosis anyway, deliberately ignoring its shiny nü tag and thinking “Fuck it: nothing makes sense anymore, what’s the worst that could happen here?” I isn’t am Muppet smart me, yo.

I’ve tried so hard to defend the potential inherent to all walks of musical life, nü-metal included, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter. Willful subjection to nü-metal was a self-destructive gamble at best, and Walking Rumor dealt me the unforgiving hand that I apparently deserved: 42 head-shaking minutes of nü-metal being as nü-metal as nü-metal can nü-metal-ly be1. Looking for chugs so low to the ground that they need shoes? No? Too bad, this… is… NÜ-METAL! Seeking lyrics as edgy as a straight razor and half as complex? You aren’t, you say? Sucks to be you. Did you maybe want said angstbursts to be… rapped??? Whaddayamean, “It’s 2020, no one wants that?” Either Walking Rumor missed that memo or they’ve decided that the cold limitations of reality are mere suggestions, as they’ve opted to extend a middle finger to modern decency and make nü-metal great again. They didn’t, but damn them it they tried.

I suppose we’ll start with the good—for such does exist within these agonizingly derivative 42 minutes. With a range and delivery at times on par with Ashe O’Hara of TesseracT, Vocalist Kenio Gustavsson is easily Walking Rumor’s greatest asset and decidedly the best aspect of Symbiosis. His edgetastic lyrics could make a high school poet cringe, but the dude can sing. For better or worse, the choruses on Symbiosis are also hookier than a fucking tackle box, and they don’t let up easy. It also must be noted that there is evident technical skill throughout the rest of the band, as evidenced by Andreas Løvenhorst’s noodlery on “Breaking Point” and Simon Bork’s surgical percussive near the end of “Turn the Tides.” It’s not that making nü-metal in 2020 is the worst thing that a band can do2, and it’s not that Walking Rumor are doing an outright poor job of what they’re doing, but… but

*Sigh* …but the fact remains that Walking Rumor are making nü-metal in 2020, and for fuck’s sake that needs to stop. I stand by my wildly heretical respect and enjoyment of Hybrid Theory, but I acknowledged this stance as indefensible for a reason; nü-metal largely clung to such concepts as metal relevance or even compositional merit by Day Glo’d threads and the clasps on its JNCO’s back in its heyday, attempting to resurrect its poorly dressed corpse is an act of treasonous necromancy so foul it deserves its own anti-holiday, like Easter for assholes. Symbiosis couldn’t be more by-the-numbers if it tried, and all evidence indicates that that’s exactly what they did. Things don’t get any safer than “Expectations”3, and “safe” is the least of Walking Rumor’s crimes. Safety is often the musical harbinger of repetition, and tracks like “Expectations” and “My Illusion” fuck that pig-like rabbits,4 resulting in an overabundance of overdone nü-metal tropes and made-for-radio moments so derivative Five Finger Butt Slap would be ashamed. It’s cool if nü-metal’s your thing, but you’d have to reee-hee-heeeally have a hair-trigger love gun for the genre to be able to endure derivative, candy-coated abortions like “My Illusion” and think “Oh damn dawg, I’ve already heard a million versions of this song but THIS IS THE ONE!!!”

Despite hardly being a cherished institute of artistic catharsis and virtuosic prowess, I maintain that nü-metal can hold value, but Walking Rumor don’t care about that. They care about doing what’s already been done, desperately attempting to capitalize on the successes of established acts but failing to realize that one of—if not the only—things that allowed nü-metal pioneers and their clones to flourish was the relative absence of territorial competition at the time. I suppose to some degree it actually is about time for nü-metal’s inevitable resurgence as a retro white walker, but Symbiosis is no such dread force. It’s everything elitists devour greedily in order to unceremoniously recycle it directly upon the face of the genre, the kind of album that makes haters feel superior for hating and defenders of nü-metal question everything that they stand for.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: walkingrumor.bandcamp.com5 | walkingrumor.com | facebook.com/walkingrumor
Releases Worldwide: April 10th, 2020

Show 5 footnotes

  1. You deserved it. – Steel
  2. Though it must constitute a crime on some level.
  3.   And good luck getting that ish outta your head-hole, yo.
  4. To use a delicate and tasteful metaphor, as it were.
  5. While the album doesn’t seem to have a Bandcamp presence of its own, you can at least find the track “Expectations” here if you’re feeling particularly self-harmful.
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