Eyes of Fire - Prisons
Century Media
Atmospheric Metalcore
10 songs (58:18)
Release year: 2006
Century Media
Reviewed by Al

After my sabbatical of last week I was really hoping for something special to publicise to you this week. Something I could confidently stamp my seal of approval on and say to you ‘Buy it, buy it now!’ Eyes of Fire on the surface of it offered a mouth watering proposition. Touted to play dark atmospheric metal with a tinge of doom (the influence from two of the member’s previous band Mindrot) I approached it with a flurry of enthusiasm.

On to the obligatory background: The band hails from Southern California and features Matt Fisher and Dan Kaufman former bassist and guitarist respectively of Mindrot. They were formed in 1998 and already have a full length album and EP under their belt. Neither of which I have had experience of hearing so unfortunately I cannot judge the difference to their former work if you are a long time fan. If, however this is your introduction to the band you are in the same boat as me so let us journey forward into the dubious unknown.

The band is publicised as an antithesis to corporate mainstream shenanigans and I quote ‘an alternative to the current influx of metalcore’ which obviously sounded promising. During the opening strains of Blood (This Consumes You) my interest was immediately peaked, it did indeed sound different, until approximately 40 seconds in when the song devolved into the barking / growling metalcore delivery we all know far too well. The song does morph back into more interesting melodies at times but it is ruined by the run of the mill metalcore chorus.

This brings me on to my main criticisms, most of which I have with Eyes of Fire’s playing style in general and one with the album itself. The playing style, while obviously invented to be something different comes off as everything but. The riffs and drumming with a few scarce examples are rather unimaginative and at times, as much as it pains me to say it, plain boring. The riffs tend to revolve around the same three or four chord progression repeated ad infinitum before morphing into another chord progression, there are no full solos and a vast shortage of interesting licks and as such I cannot see much in the way of technical merit to applaud. This band has two guitarists which I find rather staggering as the majority of the time they seem to just play the exact same thing. The drumming tends to be of the deliberate and precise drumming of slower tempo bands but never seems to deviate from this, even when the vocals increase to a much faster tempo so while adequate, nothing interesting or surprising really occurs.

Most of the songs on the album tend to start with a slow build up consisting of clean vocals and guitar. These intros are obviously there to create a feeling and set the tone of the song, but each one is dull and unimaginative, they tend to drone on and do little to improve the song as a whole. With more accomplished vocals and interesting melodies they may have had an impact, but unfortunately they have neither. My final main criticism on the sound comes in the way of the song length. I have never shied away from songs stretched over 6 minutes, provided that the songs display enough variety to warrant their length and maintain interest. Eyes of Fire however simply stretch 3 minute songs to twice their length, by way of the aforementioned intros and on occasion utterly pointless minute long periods of silence and bizarre ‘sounds’ at the end of songs. This is frustrating when listening to the album as a whole and I continuously found myself checking my MP3 player thinking it had run out of juice.

My criticism with the album itself, is the production. Having done my research, I discovered it was produced by Matt Bayles, the man responsible for the abhorrent production on Mastadon’s albums. The same mistakes made on that album are repeated here, with the guitars way too high in the mix and the vocals all but unintelligible. I accept the reasoning that this is to give the album a ‘raw’ quality but it impacts so negatively on the listening experience that I fail to see the point.

There is the odd enjoyable moment amongst all this mediocrity. Gone Forever features the albums best guitar lick and hass a better construct and flow then the rest of the offerings but is hurt by a plodding intro and consistent repetition. It All Dies Today is a showcase of more encouraging musicianship and actually features a sort of solo but once again the minute of semi silence at the end detracts.

I absolutely cannot recommend this unless you are a fan of shoddy production, (that’s shoddy folks, not raw, they are different) and consistent repetition. If Eyes of Fire managed to get a better talent to capture their sound in the studio and managed to hone their playing to something more precise or imaginative, then maybe they could be on to something. At present they are too far off the mark to warrant significant attention.

Killing Songs :
Al quoted 40 / 100
Ken quoted 85 / 100
Dee quoted 33 / 100
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