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Yellow Eyes - Rare Field Ceiling Award winner

Yellow Eyes
Rare Field Ceiling
by Chris Hawkins at 08 July 2019, 12:33 PM

A couple of decades ago, the American shores seemed to be the red-headed step child of Europe’s paternal character in terms of Black Metal.  Much has changed along the way as the small horde of Black Metal warriors in the U.S. became fruitful and multiplied.  It can now be firmly stated that this land is home to some of the most challenging, forward-thinking Metal of the unlight (Europe doesn’t have anything that can touch LEVIATHAN).  One such example of this is New York’s YELLOW EYES.  Hailing for a city that has given birth to such acts as TOMBS, BLACK ANVIL, KRALLICE, and WOE, the band formed in the highly fertile year of 2010 and have now released their fifth full-length, “Rare Field Ceiling”.

This is a massively warm record, the kind that has the sonic characteristics of vinyl even when played digitally.  After a brief flirtation with sound effects, the album fires off with “Warmth Trance Reversal”.  Out of the gate, it is readily apparent YELLOW EYES have captured a roundly transparent studio version of their Black Metal art.  This is exceedingly challenging material for there is so very much layering between the riffs.  The mind cannot help but give comparison to an unholy version of VOIVOD in the way the band keeps the listener’s attention by never letting one off the hook with twisted riffs aided by cacophonous amounts of dissonance.

One could certainly qualify this album as being Avant Garde Black Metal.  YELLOW EYES, in the tradition of many of the European bands that sought to widen the genre, have committed themselves to the art of exploration.  Desolation, sorrow, and loss are merely predicates for their deep dive into the ether for inspiration.  One can truly feel the cold, the kind that penetrates through nerve endings only to wrap itself around one’s very bones. Yellow eyes, as a symptom is a sign that can point to serious ill health including dysfunction of both the liver and the pancreas.  “Nutrient Painting,” the fourth track, seems to point to an apparent lack of health whether spiritually or physically.  Though this could be labeled a stretch, the song’s tonality falls in line with chaos and sickness.  The music itself conveys a staunch sense of feeling unwell.

Having a more than capable lineup is surely a blessing for YELLOW EYES.  The drums, in an almost Jazz-like sense, are constantly moving, adding occasional dalliances with a variety of cymbals and toms to add fluidity of motion to the music.  In a production sense, the percussion is perfectly captured with a wide berth of organic warmth.  The thud of the bass drum thumps the same way as if standing next to the drummer in rehearsal and is allowed the proper amount of space in the mix.  The bass is clangy and on top of things, thankfully audible.  Vocally, the shrieks uttered penetrate deeply and further the cause of the music in contributing to the overall feeling of discomfort, if not outright sickness.  It is the work of the two guitars that truly steal the show.  In some ways, each is always contributing to the benefit of the other.  This would be more clearly seen if one were to be subtracted from the mix.  The music would then sound naked and devoid of character.  The title track certainly provides the clearest snapshot of the labor of the guitars and their vision coming to fruition.

Melody is but a flirtation for YELLOW EYES.  It is not their aim to create music that is safe.  Rather, like true higher art, this album is meant to bring the listener along on a journey.  In this particular case, it is a journey keep into the recesses of the mind’s fears where solitude, illness, and vapid degradation are embedded.  “Rare Field Ceiling” has truly moved American Black Metal, and Black Metal in general, forward, albeit menacingly so.

Songwriting:  9
Originality:  9
Memorability:  9
Production:  8


4 Star Rating

1. Warmth Trance Reversal
2. No Dust
3. Light Delusion Curtain
4. Nutrient Painting
5. Rare Field Ceiling
6. Maritime Flare
Alexander DeMaria – Bass
Will Skarstad – Vocals, Guitars
SS – Guitars
Mike – Drums
Record Label: Gilead Media


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Edited 16 October 2019

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