The gaze may appear serious, but it's one I've seen countless times
For a debut album, Eyes Set to Kill’s 2008 effort Reach has its fair share of good and bad points, which meant that overall, it was a good offering, if a little clichéd in places.
The follow-up effort from the Phoenix (Arizona, U.S.) outfit, 2009’s The World Outside, wasn’t so much an improvement, but more or less a calculated reinforcement of the same direction and sound that was heard on their debut. While existing fans took to the album in a major way, others were left unconvinced of the band’s talents - being largely ignored by most.
Now returning with their third album in as many years, Eyes Set to Kill are back with Broken Frames - an album that boasts a revamped line-up within the band ranks (lead vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Alexia Rodriguez, bassist/backing vocalist Anissa Rodriguez, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Greg Kerwin and drummer Caleb Clifton have welcomed additional lead vocalist Justin ‘Cisko’ Denson to the fold), along with a promised change of direction and sound.
While in some ways Broken Frames shows a progression from the predominate metalcore sound of Eyes Set to Kill releases of the past, the band still haven’t quite managed to shake off the negative aspects of their past sound enough to really claim any great leaps forward.
The first single All You Ever Knew is quite an opening track, with the much promised heavier sound coming through in waves previously unheard of before from the band. The angular riffing is also a notable addition to the band’s sound, while the trade off between Alexia and Denson still offer some connection with the past for those who have followed the band’s work. Unfortunately, as good as the new textures are, the song still has that fair run of the mill metalcore aggressiveness, but with an added sense of alternative rock with the addition of Alexia stand out vocals. In short, Denson’s position within the band (much like the other growled vocalists they’ve had in the past) offers nothing to the band’s sound, and is therefore an unnecessary extra.
The title track Broken Frames is primarily a carbon copy of the opener with a slightly different tempo and melody line, but the album does pick up a little with The Listening. Perhaps it’s the slightly darker tone, or maybe the varying shifts in tempos, but either way, this song is definitely one of the album’s stronger moments.
Continuing the upswing in quality is the gorgeous Ticking Bombs, which more than proves that once the growled vocals are removed, Eyes Set to Kill do have the ability to stand and shine by themselves.
Although fast paced and kind of rocking, Play the Part and Falling Fast are fairly formulated efforts, with Denson’s efforts dominating proceedings. In stark contrast, it’s the tail end of the album where the slow building/piano based Ryan (which is preceded by the short instrumental Catch Your Breath), Two Letter Sin, Escape and Let Me In (which is actually a solo effort from Alexia under the name of Lexia) which shows just what Eyes Set to Kill are capable of when providing listeners with something that doesn’t fall victim of having to deliver material that’s strictly metalcore.
After two fairly familiar releases, and talk from the band about trying some new things, I was expecting so much more from this album. But in the end, Broken Frames is just another good release from the band, but only if you happen to be a fan of the band’s two former releases. My advice to the band would be to drop the male vocals and the metalcore sound, and focus on the sound that lies underneath. That’s where the real talent lies.
(BreakSilence Recordings/Koch Entertainment)