Album Type: Album
Date Released: 12th June 2015
Label: Svart Records
'I' track Listing:
01 The Smoke
02 Crazy Heart
03 My Father The Wolf
04 Drawing Down The West
05 Two-Zero 13
06 Black Hound
07 Farewell to All-In-One
What started as a pastime for Jess and the Ancient Ones guitarist and songwriter Thomas Corpse has morphed into an actual band: The Exploding Eyes Orchestra. With a lineup consisting of five out of seven Jess and the Ancient Ones members, the band's debut album, simply titled I, will hit the streets on June 12th.
According to Thomas Corpse, the idea behind the new combo was to find an outlet for material which the prolific songwriter found incompatible with the Jess and the Ancient Ones concept. The album is culled from lengthy recording sessions held in Kuopio, Finland in the winter of 2013 and 2014, and these sessions also produced another album's worth of excellent material, which will see the light of day on the next release, II, in the spring of 2016. Despite the relaxed nature of the sessions, these are not jam-based improvisational tracks but strong, carefully planned compositions. The music is laid back and soulful, influenced by classic rock, with powerful female vocals.
What else the future might bring to The Exploding Eyes Orchestra is difficult to foretell, and Corpse likes to consider the band as a loose collective unit which doesn't necessarily follow the traditional route of rock bands (even though they do play live and release albums) but is not a therapy session either.
If the wait for a new LP from Finland’s Jess and the Ancient Ones is getting you down, “I” by The Exploding Eyes Orchestra is here to ease your pain. Boasting a line-up that is 5/7 of Jess and the Ancient Ones and sharing a guitarist and songwriter in Thomas Corpse, there are many similarities between the Exploding Eyes Orchestra and their sister band but they still possess an identity of their own.
You would be hard pressed to identify any discernible difference between the two bands from opener “The Smoke”, five minutes of thumping organ fuelled heavy rock with more than a hint of Deep Purple. “Drawing Down The West” is another track which could be from either bands stable while “Two-Zero 13” occupies similar territory to “The Smoke” but with added aggression and dirt which gives it a welcome grunge feel. However, over the course of the rest of the album the two bands styles begin to diverge and The Exploding Eyes Orchestra begin to establish their individuality.
“Crazy Heart” and “My Father The Wolf” are both solid nuggets of pure classic rock gold shorn of any metal elements whatsoever. This is no bad thing though, particularly if you are partial to a bit of Fleetwood Mac and 70’s Bruce Springsteen. I feel the band really come into their own during these two tracks and this is the sound they need to explore and expand further in future releases.
The remaining two tracks bring the album to a close in an odd yet captivating fashion. “Black Hound” establishes an eerie atmosphere with slide guitar and harmonica before a menacing bass riff that wouldn’t be out of place on “Songs for the Deaf” lumbers into view, heralding a dark bluesy stomp. “Farewell All-In-One” brings proceedings to a close with the most progressive track on the album. It begins life as a 50s style ballad, all crooning and expansive reverbed twang and slowly develops to an epic instrumental finale that is only a mellotron away from prime prog territory and even brings to mind some of Grails’ more serene moments.
This is an excellent debut from The Exploding Eyes Orchestra that will satisfy fans of the members’ previous work and win them new admirers both from within the metal community and further afield. You won’t have to wait long for another dose either as “II” was recorded during the same sessions and will be with us this time next year.
Words by: Charlie Butler
Thanks To Nathan at Svart Records for the album promo. I will be released on CD/DD/Vinyl from Svart Records from June 12th 2015.
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