MGF Reviews Eyes Set to Kill – The World Outside

Eyes Set to Kill – The World Outside
Break Silence Records (6/2/09)
Metalcore / Post-hardcore

Music reviewers have taken the idea of the sophomore album and turned it into a tired cliché over the past decade or so, as if a band’s follow-up album could make or break a promising career. How many acts have you read about, “avoiding the sophomore slump,” only to burn out and fade away?

The reality is that any album could make or break a band. The good ones continue to exceed from project to project. The great ones build up a strong enough fanbase so that, when the time comes to shift outside the comfort zone, a less than stellar release won’t completely destroy the goodwill that took years to stockpile.

Eyes Set to Kill exploded out of the gates in 2008 with Reach, a fun little album that saw the band melding rock, metal, hardcore and melody into a seething beast of emotion. And the biggest thing the album had going for it was the raw passion that each band member brought to the table. There was this slight air of inexperience hovering throughout the proceedings that brought an added sense of urgency to each song.

Now, just a year and a half (or thereabout) since that full-length debut, Eyes Set to Kill returns with a vengeance. One wouldn’t think so much could change in that short amount of time, but on The World Outside the band hits each peak, each emotional high, each beat with such precision that you’d think this was its fifth or sixth album. Bands this young aren’t supposed to sound this good, are they?

This time around, Eyes Set to Kill have utilized a more balanced use of the melodic female vocals balanced out with the harsher, screamed male vocals. The listener is almost taken aback as album opener “Heights” unfolds without singer Alexia Rodriguez’s familiar tones being front and center.

It would appear that the band front-loaded this album with the more aggressive material, as the aforementioned “Heights”, “Hourglass” and “Deadly Weapons” show the band still drawing inspiration from the likes of Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold, at least in some regards.

After that hard-hitting trio, the band flexes their genre-bending muscle, first with the haunting, piano-based “Interlude”, which bleeds into the title track. (The use of a piano interlude shows up again, later, on “The Hollow Pt. 1″.)

The beauty of the music that Eyes Set to Kill are beginning to craft is in the juxtaposition of the various elements continues to mature. Whether it’s the dual-vocal approach, the quieter piano moments sandwiched between stutter-stop riffing and thunderous groove, or when the parts pull into one mass attack (executed to perfection on “The Hollow”), the band never seems to get lost or overdo it with the individual elements.

And the most striking improvement over Reach is the lyrical content hidden on The World Outside. The band bares its collective soul, so to speak, on the album’s strongest tracks, to great effect. From the title-track’s homage to life on the stage (“The world outside; its changing me, changing me; to whom I’m afraid of / I can’t confide in anything”), to tales of broken love on “Wake Me Up” (“It’s not my fault that I dug a grave so deep / Lying at the bottom, and I’m looking up; She’s all I see”), to the crushing letter to an absent father on album closer “Come Home” (“There’s never an ounce that I breathe without thinking about who I could have been with you”).

Eyes Set to Kill had a hit with Reach. So make it two-for-two with The World Outside, which is easily one of the year’s best…