Artist: Eyes of Eli
Title: Eyes of Eli
Release Date: 4/19/12
Reviewer: Lee Brown
- Open Up
- Church Of The Harlot
- Devil’s Going Down (ft. Mason Harrison)
- Seed Of Lust
- When Silence Speaks
- Don’t Be Afraid
- Your Word
Eyes of Eli’s self-titled debut album belongs in the same class as For Today’s Breaker, A Plea For Purging’s The Life and Death of…, and The Great Commission’s Heavy Worship. Read that sentence again (twice). If you still need to read this review, great, but most of you should now be on iTunes. Really, go. It’s simply that good.
Eyes of Eli is a heavy album that mixes in some amazing cleans, some guttural lows, and even some rap-core elements (on “Devil’s Going Down”). In terms of vocals, the range applied to this album comes just short of the astounding range of Ryan Clark (Demon Hunter). Overall, the style of the album is very much in line with Plea and The Great Commission mixed with War of Ages, both in terms of styling and message.
This self-titled album beings, fittingly, with an intro track. Intro tracks let the listener know what to expect and this one is no different. As such, it lets the listener know they’re about to enter war with the enemy. As the track begins, the sound of shells colliding with buildings is heard amidst resounding gunfire. When combined with the initial guitar chords, Metallica’s “One” is almost immediately brought to mind. This brief parallel is quickly obliterated once the vocals begin, however as JB initiates the listeners’ ears with a brief spoken word of testimony ending in the first scream of the album, “We seek Your face, Father!” This first scream says it all. This is what Eyes of Eli is about. This “Heavy Worship,” to reuse The Great Commission’s term, is what the listener can expect from the second they start the album to the moment it ends and leaves you wanting more.
“Fallout” carries the battle imagery the intro track creates and capitalizes on it to speak to the desolation this world lies in. It gives the battle cry to rebuild what the enemy has destroyed. Chants of “It’s all for Your glory” resonate as JB speaks to the devastation of this world breaking way to the Second Coming of Christ. Mentions of eschatological elements such as the Millennial Reign of Christ the band has slightly more theological depth than even some faith-based hardcore bands in the industry today. As such, the album comes across as missional music in the same vein (again) as For Today and The Great Commission.
“Open Up” opens up with some slick guitar and drum work that really shows off the deep talent EOE have been gifted with. It also begins with a guttural growl which fans of Demon Hunter will appreciate (I don’t know why, but I’m addicted to tracks that begin with quick guttural noises… call me crazy). The focus of “Open Up” is discernment as JB says, “I will not trust the liars, I will not fear the thieves, I’ll never follow robbers…” This theme is carried forward into “Church of the Harlot” which brings the same message captured by The Showdown’s “Fanatics and Whores,” and which is visually portrayed by A Plea for Purging in their “Shiver” video. Opening up with the sounds of “Name it and claim it” preachers, Eyes of Eli tackles the difference between a life conformed to Christ and those “religious vipers” who are only Godly on the outside.
“Devil’s Going Down” begins with the cry “War!” and then breaks into some 90’s inspired rap-core. Hardcore purists will likely dismiss the track, but make no mistake this song is powerful. Speaking of power, “Creator” is possibly the most powerful track on this album. While not the heaviest track, the message is certainly one that speaks to the heart where it both affirms God’s love for man, and (our) complete devotion to Him.
“Seed of Lust” shows off some of the best cleans of the album, and speaks to the war we face against the temptation of this world. “This is the seed I’ve sown and it won’t let me grow” hearkens to strong Biblical imagery about the consequences of sin. The listener isn’t left in the mire, however, as “You” admits these struggles, but points to the strength that is offered by a God who “meet(s) me right where I am.”
“When Silence Speaks” and “Don’t Be Afraid” (as well as the final track) share the distinction for being the heaviest tracks found on this album. If they were the only ones you were to sample, it would be easy to confuse Eyes of Eli with War of Ages, at least in instrumentation. Though both songs are great, “Don’t Be Afraid” stands out. It is heavy in all the right places and the message of not being afraid because God is with us is powerful. Theologically this track incorporates elements of Jesus’ final words, Paul’s deathbed assurance, and the powerful reminder that we are bought back from sin by the blood of Christ. In every way “Don’t Be Afraid” is an encouragement to the listener.
Eyes of Eli’s self-titled debut album concludes with “Your Word.” From start to finish “Your Word” models the overall themes of the rest of the album. Sonically it incorporates both the guttural screams and the clean vocals which balance so well throughout the rest of the album and the theme brings you broken before the feet of Christ. Though it would have been nice to have an instrumental track akin to the intro to close out the track (possibly utilizing the imagery brought in early on of the return of Christ and thereby serving as a nice bookend to the album), “Your Word” does a pretty good job of both closing the door on this album and leaving the listener wanting more.
Overall: Eyes of Eli is a powerful debut from a band that deserves to be considered one of the breakout bands of the year! For an independent debut album, Eyes of Eli shows good production value, solid dichotomy between clean vocals and guttural growls, and features some amazing instrumentation. Fans of For Today, War of Ages, A Plea for Purging, and The Great Commission will be enthralled with this album, but all fans of heavy music owe it to themselves to check out this powerful album. When it comes to Eyes of Eli, all I can say is, I can’t wait for more!
RIYL: For Today, War Of Ages, A Plea For Purging, The Great Commission