Originally written by Erik Thomas
Without boring you too much with band history, basically Eyes of Fire is the new project of former Mindrot/Shiva members Dan Kauffman and Matt Fisher (I highly recommend Mindrot to those who have not heard them). They released a 4 song teaser EP, Disintegrate a while ago, and now the full length album is upon us and it’s worth the wait.
Of course Mindrot comparisons are bound to fly around, and they are certainly warranted, and at times the miserable ghost of Mindrot permeates the more doomy material, but on the whole, Eyes of Fire is slightly more tempered and little more commercial. Featuring 2 tracks from the EP (“Hopeless” and “Anyone”) and 9 fresh tracks “Ashes to Embers” with its extended uses of synths and varied instrumentals is more moods than pure metal. With more Isis /Neurosis like ambience mixed in with crushing sonic waves, Eyes of Fire ebb and flow like the tide then crash into the ungiving shore with subtle heaviness.
The opening cut is actually a badly placed opening track, as “The End Result of Falling..” is a seven minute ballad that builds but never quite peaks and fails to meet initial expectations of those familiar with Mindrot, maybe an intentional “Hey, we are not Mindrot” statement to enforce the new songwriting direction of Kauffman and Fisher. However, “Empty” lumbers into view with a nasty gait reminiscent of the faster tracks from Soul. Still clearly master of misery Kauffman and Fisher are at their best when treading territory that mixes both of the aforementioned elements though, intertwining moody atmospheric builds and calamitous outcries of despair-like Mindrot I suppose. “Down” is the first track (to Eyes of Fire’s credit) that truly sounds like latter day Mindrot, with sorrowful self loathing that eventually explodes much like “Nothing” from Soul. The dual bellows and clean voices of Kauffman/Fischer have been developed further with the clean vocals being more prominent but still equally depressive, and the growl has been cleaned up somewhat.
“Fear” is the album’s heaviest track forsaking any kind of atmospherics or build, careening straight into a slightly ‘Nu metal’ groove pace but with a far more menacing edge. The album’s best cut though has to be the vast “Breath” and its no coincidence that it again bears a striking resemblance to Mindrot’s spilt personality diatribes of hopelessness and rage. The driving “One More”, while ‘heavy’ is a slightly characterless chugger that seems forced amid the rest of the album’s slightly more varied ambience.
It’s no coincidence that the album is at its best when sounding like the lengthy, draining hymns of Mindrot, as when trying to be a little different and forcibly not sound like Mindrot it comes across as a little veiled, I wish Eyes of Fire would just focus on emotional, provocative tunes like the epic closer “The Last Goodbye”, rather than short predictable almost radio MTV friendly tracks like “Shelter”, I can understand the need to break up the often emotionally demanding material, but when they are so good at it, why ruin it?
The production isn’t as gigantic as it could have been, again I get the feeling it was a concerted effort to forge a new identity, but it actually takes away from some of the superb riffage that does appear on the album.
A pretty impressive album that despite best efforts comes across as Mindrot –lite, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, still, I look forward to more from this band as they develop a more unique identity or just reform Mindrot. The latter is preferred.
Right then, how many times did I mention Mindrot in this review?