|Review: Brown Jenkins - Angel Eyes|
Label: Moribund Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: January 23, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Rated 5/5 (100%) (1 Vote)
H.P. Lovecraft, with his Cthulu mythos, has given the world a window into the ancient elder insanities that lurk in the shadows, and driven men to insanity with promises of hidden lore and long-lost power. His influence on metal is large, especially in the sub genre of Funeral Doom which is perfectly suited to portray the ancient secrets and deep abyssal insanity that is the theme for much of his writing. Hailing from the somewhat unlikely home of Austin, Texas, Brown Jenkins delivers a hefty dose of Lovecraftian evil and oppressive blackened Funeral Doom in the form of their latest album Angel Eyes.
The guitars on Angel Eyes are an enveloping, oppressive wall of sound, assaulting and perpetual, as deep and infinite as the ocean or the void of space. The sound is razor-sharp, but not thin — a full and caustic tone that does exactly what it sets out to do: delivering the equivalent of aural insanity. There are basically two tracks to the guitars throughout the album; one an amorphous, echoing open chord garrote, the other a palm-muted crunch of riffing boulders. They play over, around and through each other, providing an interesting dynamic that maintains your attention throughout, although it can get quite tiring toward the end of the album.
The bass is all but inaudible, which is not surprising, but the drums also are pushed very far back into the mix, delivering an almost subconscious impetus to the music, driving it forward from the depths. It is an odd feeling, as even though the drums aren't clear, their presence is inescapable — you never find yourself wondering what happened to them. Vocals are sparse, playing a tertiary role behind the guitars and tangible menace of the atmosphere, and are uniformly deep blackened growls like those of some kind of hidden Cthulu-esque insanity, tormenting you from the shadows, driving the weak minded ever closer to the edge, so that the wash of guitars can push you over into the awaiting abyss. They suit the music perfectly, but can become draining after a while, especially when you have that ever present wall of sound of the guitars.
From a songwriting perspective, Angel Eyes offers fairly straightforward compositions. They amble about like some slime covered terror from the deep, speeding up and slowing down in a disjointed and disconcerting manner, as though your hearing is reacting to your mind being stretched, and is a wonderful effect that drags you deeper into the atmosphere of encroaching terror. Traditional song structures are nowhere to be found here; the songs seem to begin, meander around in search of life to devour, and then pass on into the night, leaving little trace that they were ever there. And this is the main problem I find with the album; for all of its incredible, focused atmosphere, the songs are not particularly memorable and blend into each other. This makes Angel Eyes a bit of a one trick pony as one song is much the same as the last and I would suggest that Brown Jenkins has tapped this particular sound for all it's worth. Seeing as how the band is no more, it would seem as though Less and Oscar may have reached the same conclusion.
Angel Eyes is an original marriage of Black Metal (in sound) and Funeral Doom (in sound and atmosphere) that works for the most part, delivering a sound that captures wonderfully the Lovecraftian feel it draws its inspiration from. The lack of dynamic in the music ultimately makes Angel Eyes quite an exhausting listen though, and it is definitely something you need to be in the mood for. Fans of extreme Doom will find something to enjoy here in particular, and Black Metal fans may get something out of it as well — it's not as extreme as Nortt, being much more cohesive, but it is traveling down that path to insanity. This is definitely a case of try before you buy, but well worth checking out as the darkness is quite inviting.
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