Danish quintet, Eyes, have a silly name and look like an indie rock band from the early 2000s. Don’t be fooled. They play a ferocious form of hardcore and like to use irony and sarcasm in their art – two things that seldom feature in heavy guitar music. When they say “congratulations,” they reserve it for the self-satisfied baby boom generation, the corporate vultures, and the wealthy elite that get richer while the illusion of the meritocratic capitalist society becomes more untenable by the day. We live in a world dominated by big tech, big pharma, and big oil. Eyes want to congratulate the tax dodgers, the lobbyists, and the shareholders that demand constant growth by any means from public-listed industrial companies. But they know that socialism is not the answer to the world’s ills.
So, if the message is that we’re all fucked, let’s at least enjoy it in an orgy of violent upheaval. That’s what the message is here. Opener, ‘Generation L’, takes the indignity of the rat race as its subject matter and uses the vitriolic might of Coalesce to power its groove. Pay attention to the rhythms underneath the 4/4 circular timings and you’ll notice the use of subtle offbeats. This is what Cave In used to sound like in the late 1990s when metallic hardcore was a new thing. The vocals here are more aggressive than an American commando unit and more unhinged than Steve Austin of Today is the Day. Jesus, this is heavy.
How curious that the guitars take little or no influence from metal despite the crushing sonics. ‘IT’S HAPPENNING’ and ‘dull BOY’ are punk rock numbers infused with the twist of garage rock and the blazing fury of hardcore screaming. For the title track, think of Refused teaming up with Converge with not a drop-tuned guitar in sight. And yet ‘Tearjerker’ is not a million miles away from Meshuggah in its rotating patterns and off-kilter grooves. You can sway your hips to some of these, but you can’t hum along to the vocals. The singer could blow his voice at any moment. Hi-fi drumbeats threaten to snuff out the bass guitar notes. ‘Value’ is the audio equivalent of a moral panic from a noise rock band that want to feather and tar the kneejerk, conservative press barons and their messengers.
For all its energy and vitality – not to mention violence – Congratulations struggles to replicate the brilliance of side A. By track seven (‘Bbbbbbbliss’), you notice the rock & roll elements creeping in where metallic guitar passages would be a more effective match for the hysteria of the vocals. Is ‘Chew’ a deliberate attempt to write heavy music for the indie crowd? You can hear the imprint of the early 2000s garage rock crap like The Hives and The Vines in this song despite the surprise use of blast beats for a brief spasm of chaos towards the end.
At twenty-nine minutes, the band’s sophomore album feels neither too short nor too long. Eyes rely on their infectious energy and righteous rage to inflame your senses, and it works most of the time. This is a band that look like demoralised white-collar insurance salesmen. Is it any wonder they sound so angry?
Release Date: 03/02/2023
Record Label: Indisciplinarian Records / Nefarious Industries
Standout tracks: Generation L, dull BOY, Value
Suggested Further Listening: Refused – Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent (1998), Mine Collapse – Delusions (2022), Cave In – Until Your Heart Stops (1999)