Chuck Schuldiner Project

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eyes of Mara - Self Titled

Metalcore sometimes seems to be a stale genre.  There isn't a whole lot going on anymore, which is not helped in even the slightest by the plethora of copycat bands that exist in its already overcrowded halls.  When metalcore came to prominence, it was an exciting fusion of two genres of music that held a heavy commonality.  Flash forward about 20 years, and it seems as though metalcore holds nothing close to the potential for exploration and free reign that it once did.  Bands like Memphis May Fire and ISSUES put out record after record and single after single that have not one ounce of variety or effort.  To be frank, it's formulaic.

It says something, then, that Eyes of Mara's self-titled full length breaks a few common rules.  Although a lot of the record feels familiar and explored to begin with (in particular, that ISSUES-heavy guitar tone), Eyes of Mara provide a sort of tension between the "metal" and the "core."  Parts of the record feel semi-technical, while others are distinctly hardcore.  The hardcore riffs pry for control in Don't Get Close only to be overtaken by djenty chugging seconds later.  The album's division between its influences is what makes it stand a bit ahead of the metalcore pack.  It takes advantage of the decision to keep the first half of the record focused on pure brutality and the second on an atmospheric buildup that reaches its culmination in the final track.

That's not to say that this album isn't without its faults.  Where it has a sort of self-awareness of its position in metalcore history, it does fall back on certain tropes that have been the backbone of the genre for the past 7-10 years.  The cheesy backing vocals in New Direction feel tired and overdone, and the album as a whole does fall back on chuggy riffing.  But despite its drawbacks, Eyes of Mara pull a bit ahead in the metalcore arms race and have actually managed to dust off a genre that had been sitting in a garage of stagnancy for a bit too long.

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