Building Eden From Embers
Released: 2011, Indie
With apologies to the band, I’ve been sitting on this album for quite a while before putting some thoughts down. To be blunt my initial impressions were not too good. I don’t naturally gravitate to this style of Metal, I prefer fast stuff and BUILDING EDEN FROM EMBERS is pretty slow. However, there was something that kept drawing me back for repeated listens, to try to figure out what it was. XVI Eyes are an independent quartet from Winnipeg, Canada that has produced their second full-length album. It’s packaged in a way I’ve never seen before. It’s sort of like a digi-pak, but not really. The cover art and inside art look like indie-rock or something, not very Metal but still creepy, and effective, quite well done. There are a dozen songs running just under an hour and the production is very good.
Musically, the band sort of falls into a mid-paced to slow no-mans land which in Metal can be like quick sand, once you get in, it’s hard to get out. It’s not very aggressive, so it might not appeal to Death, or Black Metal fans, it’s not really very doomy and it’s not fast enough for Speed Metal or Power Metal fans. It’s hard to pin-point and that’s a good thing, I’d say there are certainly some good progressive tendencies. The songs are well-written and have interesting arrangements. There is a bit of acoustic guitar scattered around the album as well. BUILDING EDEN FROM EMBERS starts on a weak note with a sort of very slow instrumental with a spoken word monologue about WWII. It’s not a bad song at all, I like it a lot actually but it should have been placed farther down in the track sequence, it’s always a bad idea to start with a slow song, especially in this day and age of people who listen to 30 seconds of the first song and judge the whole album.
One of the major drawbacks in my mind are the Phil Anselmo styled shout vocals. I can’t believe so many bands still fall back on this worn out 90’s clean whine, dry lung shout counter-point style of vocals. It’s so predictable, the faster parts have the shouting and the slower parts have the cleaner monotone style. In defense of vocalists, Shane and Dale, they do it very well but it’s just not my preferred style. It’s hard to straddle two divergent styles simultaneously because then it makes for a very schizophrenic listening experience. Half the songs are dirgy ballads and the other half are sort of Metalcore inspired, so it’s an odd mix.
Although my review might sound quite critical, I do like the album. The progressive song-writing, and acoustic electric interplay, the production and guitar tones are good. XVI Eyes are hard to categorize, a bit of Black Sabbath, a bit of Pantera, a bit of groove with some melodic soloing here and there, it’s an intriguing mix. I suppose in this day and age of thousands of bands competing for people attention it could be worse to have a unique and original sound. I’d recommend BUILDING EDEN FROM EMBERS to open minded fans of heavy music who like to explore some new, high quality, experimental, avante-garde music.