Eyes Set To Kill
has been a relatively active band, releasing seven albums within the span of fifteen years. Their twenty eleven release, White Lotus
, starts out with brutal metalcore jams. But it was half full of acoustic ballads. Their twenty thirteen album, Masks
, rocked out pretty good. They played lively metalcore songs straight across the disc, with some crazy grim vocals involved. The cardboard package is designed to look like an elegant photo album, showing an eye with three black tears on the front cover. When you open the trifold, the two sides have no pictures, but the CD is mounted in the middle. Pull out the disc and there is a bizarre human image, heavily spattered with black ink. The booklet shows the lyrics handwritten in a sloppy manner, along with some strange drawings. Sources say that bassist Anissa Rodriquez quit the band. But in the booklet, she is credited for playing on this album. It specifically says that all of the songs were performed by Alexia, Caleb and Anissa.
Vocalist Alexia Rodriquez comes across as a typical lady and is talented with a naturally cutting voice. Her presentations sometimes sound humble and at other times a bit rougher, with some attitude. There aren’t any grim vocals on this album and the focus is on the vicissitudes of emotion. The second song, Die
Trying, starts with an industrial sound and heavily processed guitar leads. The bass is plucked along with deeper notes and the drummer mixes it up using ornamental beat variations. The vocalist sings with the sassy spunk of Pat Benatar
. “Everyday these voices make me question myself.” “Should I be somebody else?” The guitar music is highly distorted in a commercial manner and picks up the pace a couple of notches. The percussionist throws down with some short drum rolls. “I’m gonna break through the chains.” “Ready to make my own way or die trying.”
The fifth track, Survive
, runs away with an energetic guitar lead. The bassist follows suit and the drums are pounded hard. The vocalist sings out her lines emotionally, like a distressed lady. “My heart is a prison, that is waiting for the key.” Then the bassist leads with suspended power chords. The guitar music accentuates these interludes and the drummer plays some catchy transitional patterns. Alexia sings with a slightly melancholic intensity. “So take me into the other side, further into the night.” Alexia has been playing the lead guitar, since the band’s beginning. Sometimes she plays high note picking or highly distorted leads, which are played tightly with the bass music. The guitar music isn’t so big on melody, as it is more focused on power. On some songs it is played faster, with outbursts of catchy metalcore grooves.
Bassist Anissa Rodriquez has left the band, so it looks like this is her last appearance. The heavy bass lines come and go, sometimes providing extra punch. In the midst of a processed and distorted sound, it adds some crunch and power. During the softer moments the bassist plays lighter, but is often second in dominance to the vocalist. The ninth number, Letting Go, commences with gentle guitar picking. The bass notes are softly plucked, with a light drum roll in the background. Alexia sings her lines with a humble consistency, which is similar to nineties grunge artists. “Do you feel like the world turned its back on you?” “Like no one hears what you say, pouring your heart into everything that you do.” Then the stringed instruments kick in with heavier notes, that are played at a faster tempo. The drummer picks up with harder intensity and yields some quick drum rolls. The vocalist sings out with higher notes, which are enhanced by delicate back up choruses.
The final song, Who We Used to Be, begins with light guitar picking. Alexia sings with a semi sweet style, similar to Courtney Love
. “Shut the door so I can breathe.” “I never told you to go.” Then suddenly the drums are beaten harder and is joined with heavy bass chugging. The highly distorted guitar is strummed with some suspended chords, as the intensity builds up. The vocalist sings out her lines with high notes, in a very emotional fashion. “Hold on to all of the memories.” “I still believe in who we used to be.” These lyrics might be an ode about Anissa’s decision to leave the band. Caleb Clifton is a high quality drummer and joined the band in two thousand six. He performs with vitality, using shuffling beat tone patterns and fluttering successions. His presence doesn’t dominate the music, but he does pound harder during the heavier interludes. Sometimes he contributes short blast beats and artistic drum rolls.
Alexia gives a decent clear voice performance, but the grim vocals are absent and the guitar riffs aren’t as explosive as they were in the past. Yet there weren’t any boring acoustic ballads, like on their previous album. It’s heavy enough throughout, but the dynamic drive is gone. Their self titled album sounds processed with synthesizer music. Some of the songs are overly dramatic and don’t rock out so good. Overall it was tame, mild mannered and FM radio friendly. There are a lot of alternative metal textures, but they don’t push it too far. Masks
was a far better album, but this recent offering is probably as good as White Lotus
. They deserve some credit for their diversity. Since they don’t follow the same formula on all of their releases, like some bands do.