Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
There’s something oddly satisfying—maybe even comforting—about harsh guitar noise. Philadelphia trio Eye Flys take that satisfaction to another level on their self-titled sophomore offering. On tunes like “Tuck and Roll,” “Sleep Forever,” and pretty much every other track on the album, guitarist/vocalist Jake Smith, bassist Keven Bernsten and drummer Patrick Forrest summon a sound so dense and enveloping that it induces a sensation sonically equivalent to being plunged into a vat of battery acid. Bernsten, the band’s in-house recording engineer, strikes a breathtaking balance between clarity and power. From start to finish, Eye Flys sounds imposingly loud at any volume, even via headphones.
Still, while Bernsten and the band’s high-fidelity heaviness is certainly impressive, it wouldn’t be remarkable on its own. This new album, after all, arrives a full 40 years after The Melvins and underground record label Amphetamine Reptile established the basic blueprint that countless bands have followed ever since. Eye Flys, in fact, wear their love of the AmRep roster, which initially included the likes of The Melvins, Unsane, Helmet, Today Is The Day, Cows, etc, on their sleeve. They also echo the art-damaged angularity and near-psychedelic hues of more experimental acts from the same era, like Barkmarket, Cherubs, and The Jesus Lizard.
If you’re looking for paint-peeling abrasion spiked with dysrhythmic starts and stops, look no further than “Draining Pus.” where at several points the band abruptly halts its forward trudge to wait patiently while dizzying blasts of feedback flood the stereo field. Next, on “Feeding Regression,” Eye Flys switch into an energizing groove. While it would be a huge stretch to describe “Feeding Regression” as danceable, the band demonstrates an agility that stands apart from the relentlessness of the other songs.
Smith, meanwhile, possesses one of the most full-bodied barks to come down the pike since Barkmarket’s Dave Sardy and Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein. Smith is also very convincing when he shouts seemingly straightforward lines like “rip the Band-Aid/ Watch the pus drain” and “Everything around here/ Wants to kill you”—lines that reveal themselves as being shaded with more meaning the more you pay attention to the rest of the lyrics.
What’s most impressive overall is the dedication to guitar tone that Bernsten and company have drawn from groups like The Melvins and Boris. On this album, Eye Flys dial up their tones to be as corrosive as humanly possible, while also doing a masterful job of marrying brute force with texture. And it’s that marriage of elements that puts Eye Flys in a class by themselves, with an album that finds an almost impossible sweet spot between caustic and ear-pleasing.