Monday, September 23, 2013

Before The Eyewall - Before The Eyewall (2013)

What you, a person, defines as beauty is purely up to you. It could be the shades of orange and red that cover the trees in autumn, or the sound rain makes on a rooftop in a storm. Hell, it could even be the way Kate Upton looks at you from her position on a magazine cover. To each their own, really. But we can find it anywhere we look, including a four track album that rises and falls like the oceans waves. Before The Eyewall is not a band that you'll be seeing at next years VMAs, or on the cover of mainstream music media like AP magazine. But they have something that none of those so called "artists" will ever really represent; they have kept their artistic integrity in tact, making the music they want to make without fear of revolt or desertion. After their 2011 demo, comprised of merely two songs of sweeping melodies and doom inspired passages, there was a certain level of acceptance you had to endure. They were on the verge of something great, and you would just have to sit back and wait to hear what came next. Two years later, their self titled debut album reminds us what beauty is.

The first gloomy soundscapes, courtesy of "Skyrises," are the kind that take you away from your room, your car, or wherever you choose to imbibe the sonic concoctions of your life. For every bit as bellowing and heavy as the music is, it is just as airy and light. The two don't offset each other, so much as they prop each other up. They bend and sway together, attached at the hip by a singular bass line, never in danger of collapsing under their own weight. With each down tempo measure, the mix grows deeper, and the impact grows larger. You'll try to break down each lone element, especially in the latter half of the first track and the first half of "Path of Ash and Desperation," hoping to discover the secret as to how three men can do the work of seven, and produce something so dramatic. Every buzzing guitar line emanates from your speaker with purpose, not a lackadaisical quiver of strings. Guitarist Garrett LoConti isn't just trying to make the ends of the strings meet; he has found a way to bring them together in melody and harmony, even when his level of distortion would seem to make this impossible. Under the alternating wail and whine of his guitar is a bass line that rattles and hums with every plucked string. Bassist Scott Hyatt is the glue here, tying high end to low.

if there was only one opportunity given for Before The Eyewall to prove their creative will, the consensus piece would have to be "Tome of the Concentric Eye." Atmospherically driven, yet melodically powered, it shows off every facet of what the band has in their repertoire. For every smooth flowing point, there is a heavy handed counterpoint, trading instrumental barbs like worthy adversaries and friends.  It is songs like this one, and calculated movements like those on display, that show how important and impactful a simple crack of a cymbal can be. Drummer Aaron O'Brien-Eichman does something that many lesser musicians can't seem to grasp; he puts a stamp on the track without being too insistent. Instead, his stick work becomes part of the tapestry. Every pounding tom punctuates a bass line and riff, as they command the next series of snares and kicks. It is the true spirit of give, take, and reply.
And so, it is with "Skyfalls" that the band culminates their work, a spacey, airy piece that is as haunting as it is beautiful. The lead guitar melody is good enough to stand on its own; but it doesn't have to. The layer directly behind it, the light electronic element is the definition of simplistic perfection.

Albums like this one do so much for the creative expanse of modern melodic metal. LoConti, O'Brien-Eichman and Hyatt don't just think outside of their own box; they think outside of the box we've all built around ourselves. We create a safe space where heavy things are heavy, and beautiful things don't exist. But Before The Eyewall offers a different perspective; it shows that those two contrasting elements can not only play nice, but build off of one another. Sure, they aren't the first band to flirt with that dynamic. But the way this entire piece comes together is unlike the mountain of melodic metal albums you've heard this year, last year, or before that. It has elements of psychedelia buried just below the surface, just beneath the mellow, post-doom exterior. It conveys emotion through strength, rather than through uncertainty or weakness. And most of all, this trio does what they've always done, without anyone to steer them in another direction. Nothing forced, nothing inserted to please the masses. This is musical purity.


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