The Bendal Interlude – Reign of the Unblinking Eye

bendalInterlude_RingMasterReview

Attempting to build on the reputation and acclaim earned through their previous clutch of EPs, British metallers The Bendal Interlude unleash their debut album; a cauldron of sludge, stoner, and blues with psych and thrash metal to sear and ignite the senses. The release is a beast of a proposition; an attention grabber reinforcing and pushing the already firm stature of the Liverpool quartet but maybe one not quite seeing the band going far enough with the new bold elements of flavour and imagination to steer them away from similarly designed offerings over recent times. Nevertheless Reign of the Unblinking Eye is a fiercely enticing and enjoyably rousing slab of predacious riffs, salacious grooves, and thumping rhythmic aggression.

Drawing on inspirations from bands such as Melvins, Crowbar, and Cathedral, The Bendal Interlude have increasingly drawn fans and attention through a quartet of releases, starting with an early Demo followed by the Foal Recordings EP in 2010, a Self-Titled EP the following year, and the Odourama EP in 2013, as well as a ferocious live presence which has seen the band share stages with the likes of Sunn O))), Earth, Orange Goblin, COC, Church of Misery, Red Fang and more. They have also made highly successful appearances at festivals like Hammerfest, Sonisphere, and Desertfest to persistently lure keen spotlights to their emergence.

For Reign of the Unblinking Eye, The Bendal Interlude took a new tact in its creation; guitarist Stu Taylor explaining recently, “We took a shift in direction when writing for the album Reign of The Unblinking Eye. The songs are much more elaborate and have a lot more going on sound-wise than previous releases. We played with time signatures, guitar harmonies, key changes, even laying down a 10-part resonator guitar part. It is by far the heaviest but also most dynamic thing we’ve written to date.” His words are quickly backed up by the album and a collection of songs which in contrast to the “abstract collection of ideas and imagery based around loose themes” which coloured previous releases, lyrically carry a more “autobiographical approach”.

art_RingMasterReviewBuckfast For Breakfast opens the album, an easily relatable repetitive vocal sample the spark to a wall of cantankerous riffs and rapier like rhythms. It is a senses trespassing confrontation, swiftly bound and veined by wiry grooves with richly engaging toxicity to their wandering sonic hands. The raw vocal squalling of Nat Gavin adds to the intrusive hostility tempering the melodic flirtation and the instinctive swing to the track’s stalking gait. It is an ear gripping start firmly backed by the blues intoxication and fiery rock ‘n’ roll of Losing Things. With Gavin’s caustic delivery, tracks are inevitably going to challenge with attitude loaded animosity yet as proven here, The Bendal Interlude merge it skilfully with a melodic/stoner prowess and addictive sonic contagion which gives every assault a captivating and inviting personality.

Next up is The Unblinking Eye and its initial electronically atmospheric suggestiveness which the track evolves into its own individual stomp of classic/groove metal fuelled ferociousness. It recruits body and imagination with consummate ease, the virulence of the grooves and infectious swing and lead hook of the track swiftly installing it as a major highlight within the album. The Bendal Interlude are rocking like a beast on heat in song and album, sparking similar reactions in the instincts and spirit of the listener.

Efram’s Hands provides a brooding groove entangled landscape of ravenous shadows and barbarous energy straight after whilst Pint of Bodies grumbles and rumbles with sonic and rhythmic rabidity whilst infusing a scent of enterprise not too removed from glam rock. Subsequently descending on the senses with a Down meets Cathedral like animosity before shifting again into an evocative melodic calm, it and its predecessor both whip up more greed for the album’s trespass before Creeks Gigantic prowls in with a thunderous rhythmic swagger led by the bass groove of Tommy Lloyd quickly matched by the resourceful craft and adventure of Taylors’ invention on guitar strings. Given further incendiary bite by the spiky beats of Dave Archer, the track is an imposingly catchy and intrusive weave of contrasting and dynamic textures finding kinship in the tracks’ vocal irritability and tempestuous air.

Anthemic and tenaciously delivered rhythms again lead an addictive and predictably groove infested persuasion as Triumph of Fortitudo steps in with bruising intensity and Cancer Bats like punk lined antagonism before stepping aside for the more merciful but equally commanding rock ‘n roll of The Block. Drama fuels every crawling riff and the doom coated breath which soaks a track layered with acidic grooving and vocal rancor. Maybe not as striking on personal tastes as other tracks within Reign of the Unblinking Eye, it still leaves satisfaction full; success sought and easily found by the closing emotional and creative animus of R.I.P.  An at times corrosive venture through varied styles and flavours within a core heavy rock storm, the song is a fascinating and increasingly impressing end to a similarly impacting release.

As suggested earlier, The Bendal Interlude could have dared to push their imagination even further but every play of Reign of the Unblinking Eye certainly reveals new twists within the all-consuming invasion of sound. Time and attention only benefits an appreciation of an instantly pleasing album which has the psyche and passions enslaved by crucial grooves in no time; a success no one can avoid or dismiss.

Reign of the Unblinking Eye is out now via Black Bow Records @ http://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/product/the-bendal-interlude-the-reign-of-the-unblinking-eye

https://www.facebook.com/THEBENDALINTERLUDE   http://thebendalinterlude.bandcamp.com/

Pete RingMaster 01/04/2016

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