Swiss quartet, Ophelia’s Eye, are one of those bands that could fall into the melodic death metal or metalcore categories. Both are sub-genres that lost their zest and purpose in the 2010s and now solicit more of a sigh than a sparkle in the eye when one thinks about reviewing this type of music. Though the derisory “At-the-Gates-core” tag could apply to the band’s debut EP, it’s not all sterile and saturated. Fight for Us is a record that bursts with restless energy and heavy metal pizzazz. You might even sit up in your chair for large parts of the fourteen minutes of sonic excitement on offer.
The title track holds nothing back in its Parkway Drive attack and In Flames approach to melodic thrash riffing. With tempos and song structures as catchy as this and vocals that refuse to snap out of the malevolent death metal growl, Ophelia’s Eye know they’re not here to reinvent a tired hybrid genre. Instead, it’s all about the energy and fizz of the music. Yes, they write choruses that follow the accents of ringing power chords and change key for the verse and bridge sections. They’re also guilty of being formulaic and predictable, yet ‘Speak Words of Destruction’ still has its merits. Listen to the death metal roar of Michel Egloff-Sieber. This is Demonstealer standard.
Nineteenth-century Prussian writer, E.T.A. Hoffman, is the inspiration for the narrative on this three-song EP, although the lyrics are vague enough to be interpreted as one man’s struggles against the vicissitudes of life. Few of the stanzas stretch beyond five words per line, although they repeat them often enough to force the choruses into something admirable from sheer will alone. Closing song and standout track, ‘Ophelia’s Eye’, ditches the infectious tempo of the first two cuts in favour of more solemn guitar meanderings before the droning distortion kicks in after twenty-five seconds. Here the Swiss outfit mean business in the way they mix early Killswitch Engage with the metalcore chugs of the early 2000s. You might even think you’re listening to August Burns Red when they get into gear, which is neither remarkable nor unremarkable. And could that be the main criticism of this music? That it’s simply enjoyable, the way a walk to the newsagents on a Sunday afternoon is enjoyable but familiar and unlikely to create a future memory?
As a debut EP, Fight for Us shows plenty of promise but relies too much on the sweeping energy and melody of traditional metal. Ophelia’s Eye will not make headlines by mixing As I Lay Dying with At the Gates, but they show here that their capabilities are high enough for us to stick around for their debut album.
Release Date: 07/08/2021
Record Label: Self Released
Standout track: Ophelia’s Eye
Suggested Further Listening: Feradur – Parakosm EP (2021), As I Lay Dying – An Ocean Between Us (2007), Demonstealer – And This Too Shall Pass (2021)