Saturday, June 25, 2011

Eyes Set to Kill - The World Outside Album Review

Surprisingly, I was wrong in my review below. Originally published on May 29, 2009, I thought for sure that this album would end this band. The drama in the band was there, they had a complete lack of compelling songs, the trend they were a part of was (I thought) dying out, there were 3 times as many past band members as current band members, and the record didn't look like it was going to do very well sales-wise... but yet with all of the odds stacked against them, they're still around. It baffles me, but I guess even the worst of bands can stay alive if they want to bad enough.

Let’s just be honest from the get-go: this album is horrible. There’s no valid reason you should even consider buying or listening to The World Outside. It’s simply a mess all around. The songwriting is lazy, the vocals are forced and strained, there is little to engage you, and this has all been done to death in the relatively recent past. This album puts an exclamation point on the downward spiral this band has been on since their inception.

Eyes Set to Kill weren’t always this terrible, though. On When Silence is Broken, the Night is Torn, they showed a tremendous amount of potential and had a few solid melodic metalcore songs that got the band noticed and put them on the map. In fact, for this 9 song EP, they put out 4 singles with music videos to accompany each, and all 4 of the songs were catchy and completely listenable. This EP was going to be their springboard to bigger things, but then their lead vocalist, Lindsey Vogt, left the band, which meant Alexia Rodriguez had to step up as lead vocalist on their next effort. With Reach, the band’s debut album, they re-recorded 3 songs from their EP, reworked some other material from the EP, and wrote some new songs, all of which were very underwhelming. Reach neutered the re-recorded songs and showed the band pushing too much for the mainstream, which now didn’t really view them as the darlings they previously were when they were obscure newcomers.

The World Outside was their chance to right some of the mistakes of Reach. It was a second chance of sorts and they let it slip away, no doubt dooming the band to obscurity or, what’s most likely, a forthcoming breakup of the band. They didn’t help themselves by kicking off the album with one of the weakest songs on the album. “Heights” starts with Brandon Anderson attempting to scream out the first verse, but instead of chills of intimidation, you’ll have chills stemming from how unnatural and forced his vocals sound. They’re very much akin to the butchered, mangled screams of early Vanna. Rodriguez is a passable vocalist, being responsible for all of the melodic vocal leads, but she comes across as nothing more than a slightly older, more mature version of Haley Williams of Paramore fame with less range.

The interplay of the two vocalists is pretty typical in that they either use a back and forth approach or they layer their vocals together. They don’t entertain any interesting or unique vocal approaches, obviously learning nothing from the legions of dual vocalist metalcore bands that have come before them. It would probably have been a better bet to cut out Anderson’s vocals altogether considering how much of a detriment to the band he is. Even so, if they were to drop all of the harsh vocals, Eyes Set to Kill wouldn’t be much more than a slightly heavier version of Vice on Victory that has a couple of piano interludes.

What hurts the most is that it almost feels like the band is forcefully trying to be average. The songwriting is pedestrian at best and simply replays the genre’s stock formulas over and over again. You won’t find an original lead or a truly unique song structure anywhere on The World Outside. The closest the band gets to average comes in the form of some of their choruses. Occasionally, they can craft a catchy chorus that stands out, such as on “The Hollow”, but more often than not they are pretty standard fare as well.

This is all pretty harsh criticism, but it needs to be said. With so many bands making music, there’s no shortage of talent on the horizon, which means a band can’t afford to play it safe or half-ass it when they have a chance to break through. Eyes Set to Kill botched their first attempt to blow up with Reach and were fortunate enough to get another go-round. However, they botched their second chance even worse than their first. The World Outside will most likely be the death of Eyes Set to Kill.

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