At times bedlamic, and very often a cacophonous onslaught, the debut self-titled album from US metallers Eyes Of Mara is one of the most compelling and savage releases this year. It is a provocation that gives you no choice but to dive headlong into its vicious depths, the release dragging ears and senses into its fury from the very first second but once enslaved it reveals an exhausting and invigorating brawl of invention and ferocious enterprise.
Metalcore, deathcore, hardcore, however you wish to tag the band’s sound, Eyes Of Mara cast a destructive web which draws on hordes of different flavours to create their simultaneously familiar yet unique ravaging of the senses and imagination. Formed in 2010 and taking their name from a Buddhist demon who is the embodiment of impulse and death, the band was swiftly igniting audiences with their furnace of sound and hostility. A year ago their well-received first EP Akkadia was unleashed, drawing attention and acclaim towards the Californian quartet. Having recently signed with Imminence Records, Eyes Of Mara now have broader horizons in their sight and their album the next uncaged persuasion.
Opening track is called Vicious and that sums it and the album up perfectly. From fiercely jabbing beats, caustic riffs, and a vocal squall of pure rage, the track explodes in one hellacious torrent of spiteful rhythms and insatiable riffery lorded over by even more malicious vocals. It is a maelstrom of energy and noise, a sonic whipping flailing the core and hunger of the track as varied essences and vocal diversity add to the cacophony resulting in one glorious and brutal tsunami. There is a surface turmoil to the song but with a wickedly creative underbelly, though the sheer force and urgency of the assault overrides the senses predominantly. At times reminding of Slipknot as their inhospitable best, the track is a seriously destructive and thrilling start.
A more reserved entrance to the following Control gives a sense of security for ears though it is a deceit which is soon twisted into a volatile and ravenous tempest of intent and sound. Grooves bred by guitarist John Rubay groan throughout the ravishment consuming ears whilst the uncompromising rhythms of drummer Nick Rubay hold no restraint in swing and impact. It is merciless proposition but whereas the opener was an unbridled storm the second song is more of a predator feistily stalking its victim. Its more defined entrapment is matched by Don’t Get Close, a track where nu-metal tendencies share their colour with the emerging and sonically scorched tapestry being woven by the band. Essences of Korn search out for the imagination but equally a Whitechapel/As I Lay Dying like violence is on rampant display as the track makes a two pronged and inescapable persuasion. Vocalist Tyler Trainer is almost schizophrenic in his variety of attacks whilst the heavy intimidating lines of bass from Cody McDonald impressively add to the dark depths and hostility of the encounter.
Both Pain and Fear and Our Paths keep the blistering rage and corrosive attacks coming, the first an antagonistic bruising with an underlying swagger and a host of seductively compelling grooves. It is a rhythmic mugging and sonic cruelty which just keeps giving, resulting in yet another virulently contagious and imaginatively punishing treat, whilst its successor riding its range on an enthralling steed of unpredictable rhythms, unveils further riveting and exciting surprises. The clean vocal venturing leaves any expectations which are maybe thinking of rising floundering, whilst similarly the melodic hardcore and almost progressive twists of the song, plus electro hues, catch deeply satisfied thoughts and emotions off guard.
The hardcore fuelled Derailed sears ears next, a short but vehemently intrusive song featuring Ian Forsythe from fellow Danville based band Cyborg Octopus, is pure vitriol in voice and energy. Yet as in all songs anything suggested is only part of the story, this track flirting with and scything through the senses and imagination with a torrential barrage of creative adventure and inventive voracity. It’s far too brief corruption is followed by a new turn in of events started by Rebirth. From this point the album shows another side to its character and the band’s exploration in sound and songwriting. Coaxing with a progressively nurtured and haunting calm, the song relentlessly builds up a dramatic and captivating wall of restrained yet oppressive sound. It is an evocative lure which consumes the length of the instrumental, and though as its peaceful climax leaves a slight dissatisfaction at the absence of the hinted eruption to come, it sparks emotions ready for the chilling exploration of Colder. Like a mix of Palms, Converge, and maybe Killswitch Engage, the track is an enthralling venture into new corners for the album, and though it lacks the addictive toxicity which wonderfully contaminates early songs, it is a heavily riveting and intimidating slab of emotive beauty and impassioned rancor.
Behind These Walls provides an outlet for the muscular adversarial might of the band to over-run ears and senses again, riffs and rhythms as incorrigible as they are brutal, matched by an exhaustingly mercurial vocal display and sonic ire. To this there are more twists than in a rat run in wait, a delicious sidestep into a thumping stride of rock ‘n’ roll rampancy and swaggering particularly stunning. It is another major peak across the lofty mountainous range of great tracks making the album bulge, only the infernal fade-out a minor niggle for tastes.
Closing on the inhospitable and tempestuous Force Of Change, metal and hardcore in barbaric union, the album is a sensational and ravenous triumph. Eyes Of Mara ensure it needs close attention and extra work at times in order to swim through the sonic winds surfacing the fearsome adventure, but rewards with a whirlwind of invention and flavour to make another important release of 2014.
Eyes Of Mara is available digitally and physically now via Imminence Records @ https://imminencerecords.bandcamp.com/album/eyes-of-mara
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