Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review and Interview: Through My Eyes - Victoria (2014)

Artist: Through My Eyes
Album: Victoria
Genre: Symphonic Deathcore

1. He Whose Slaves We Are
2. Edict Of Diocletian
3. Inquisitor
4. The Malfaisant
5. A Votuus
6. Gallows Hill
7. The Scourge
8. Victoria

    The incorporation of symphonic elements in "modern" music is very peculiar. The simplest quarter-note pattern can transform a stale riff into a hypnotizing experience; at the same time, an overabundance of layered orchestral fanfares can instigate migraines (I'm looking at you, Scrambled Defuncts). From Electric Light Orchestra to Fleshgod Apocalypse, some bands embed symphonic compositions as a highly integral aspect of their music - one that's hard to imagine these bands without. On Through My Eyes' latest LP, 'Victoria,' the various synthesized arrangements tastefully complement the music with memorable melodies without being overbearing and assuming of a spotlight position. The band has found a fitting middle position where the synths tell their own story without disturbing the guitars. There are times when the symphonic component becomes overshadowed by the rest of the instrumentation; but just like that really embarrassing thing you did in high school, it’s always faintly present in the back of your mind.
    Riff-wise, Through My Eyes are reminiscent of a groove oriented Make Them Suffer; 'Victoria' is chock-full of heavy, distorted open-note action, smoothly blended in with those delightful symphonies. The album is attention-grabbing from the start, every riff locking itself deep inside the listener’s consciousness. These guys can write a catchy riff, believe me; I can still vividly recall portions of their 2012 ‘Skin Deep’ EP. The chugging on ‘Victoria’ is fun and exciting, but the introduction of blast beats is always a welcome change of pace. The drumming keeps the music pounding by blending fast, dynamic double bass and cleverly placed snare patterns. The secondary blasting snare pattern midway through ‘Edict of Diocletian’ is a prime example of creativity that I would love to see more of. The vocals are another album highlight, topping off the music with demonic growls and shrieks – this guy likes to get low. Deadly squeals and gutturals further layer over the ominous atmosphere, in contrast to occasional clean vocals that add a touch of serenity to the madness.
    The final track, Victoria, is the real showstopper of this release. The 11-minute behemoth outright demonstrates the musical talent and songwriting ability carried by the band. As an avid listener of lengthier songs, it's blatantly apparent when one drags on pointlessly, and when every collective minute has a firm purpose. In Victoria, the sweeping guitar leads and technical breakdowns carry this song with immense power; a synthesized acoustic guitar interlude interrupts to play a calming lull, slowly erupting back into a melodic downpour of groove. The scream of 'Victoria!' tinges with an emotional quality, demonstrating the narrator's passion and investment. By all means, a very satisfying finale to the album. However, the best part of this release also exposes a slight weakness; the rest of the album's songs are far from simple, but Through My Eyes seems shy toward advancing head-on in the progressive direction. They are obviously bicurious with it, as indicated by the 11-minute epic, but some parts of the album don't sync with the prowess found in the final track. Yet, I have faith that they'll be able to advance even further on their next release.   


Please introduce the members of Through My Eyes and their role in the band.
Alex: “Hi, I’m Alex, I do vocals.”
Mike: “I’m Mike, I play guitar.”
Bryan: “I’m Bryan, I also play guitar”
Josh: “hi I’m Josh I like to hit things with sticks”
Qual: “I’m Colin and I like to play pretend guitar.”

In what ways has Through My Eyes progressed from the release of the Skin Deep EP to the very recent Victoria LP?
Alex: “Skin Deep was kind of our way of testing the waters with this heavier style, and with Victoria we stepped it up in a big way. I think Skin Deep was a little more tame, and with this new album, we really got to experiment and explore our own style. Victoria has a much more unique sound than Skin Deep by far.”
Mike: “Skin Deep was the beginning of us discovering where the band wanted to go musically. In my opinion Victoria is just a much more matured version of Skin Deep.”
Bryan: “We decided to go with a more progressive approach with this album. Each instrument plays it’s own individual role by making the album sound more interesting and mature, as Mike said.”
Colin: “Skin Deep did an amazing job of getting us recognized on blogs all over the world and gave us more of a solid internet entity. With that being said, Mike went on more of a creative and technical approach while still keeping the symphonic elements that people loved about Skin Deep.”
Josh: “I can’t even begin to explain how Mike’s brain works. He just starts writing a crazy piece and it turns into a beautiful song. Since we released Skin Deep over two years ago, he’s continued to do that and basically this is what it has become.”

Victoria was self-recorded and produced; tell me about that process and how it affected the final outcome of your album.
Alex: “Self-producing definitely added a little bit more stress near the end with the final mixes and all that, but the whole process itself was a huge relief. We didn’t have to lug around our equipment to someone else’s house to spend a few hours chipping away at a big project. We were able to spend 9 to 12 hours at a time knocking out major chunks of the album. I think we would have finished things up faster if we were working with someone else, but the quality of writing would not be there.”
Mike: “Well I was in charge of recording/producing the album, and I think that self producing was the best decision we could have made. We had complete and utter control of how we wanted the album to sound, which was different than anything else we had experienced before. It was the most comfortable recording experience we had been involved in, and over all enabled us to create the best album we could.”
Bryan: “With Mike playing a very prominent role in the development of this album, I can definitely say it was an advantage to have one of our own band members produce this album. We had more control and it was a very comfortable experience”

How was your symphonic component factored into the music during the song writing process?
Mike: “With Skin Deep, I wrote the symphonic elements with the idea that they would be the main focus of the music. However with Victoria, I really wanted the guitars to be the primary focus of the album, with the orchestration just filling in the gaps when needed.”

Can you tell me more about Victoria's concept and how it came into fruition? 
Bryan: “We’re all antichrists and hate religion.”
Alex: “Well we aren’t all antichrists, only a few of us. We were playing around with the idea of doing a concept album and we flip-flopped a lot. At first we tried Greek mythology, then a storyline, but ultimately we ended up with the concept of religious violence. The way I described it (which is on our bandcamp and other media sites) is: ‘This album is a concept album about some of the worst atrocities caused by a hateful devotion to religion. Each song represents a horrifying period of time when human life was disposed of indiscriminately, the worst genocides and exterminations in the history of the world.’ The point I was really trying to get across through the lyrical content is that religion is supposed to be such a peaceful institution, but even since before the bible existed, people were massacring each other over it. It’s not meant to be a huge slap in the face, just some food for thought.”

You're able to organize your own tour - who would you be playing with?
Mike: “Can I please tour with Korn? Please?”
Bryan: “I personally would love to play with Mumford and Sons and Coldplay but if we got on a tour with them, everyone would be questioning what we’re so angry about”
Alex: “Sign me up for something with Behemoth, Aborted, Ovid’s Withering, Thy Art Is Murder, and Aversions Crown, and then a different tour with Tesseract. Please.”
Josh: “ In all seriousness, we book everything DIY, anywhere we can. We’re touring alone but playing with locals in all the areas we have booked for the summer. It should be a grand ole time! But eventually if we had the choice I would say Make them Suffer and Parkway Drive. Huge influence on the music and Australians are generally pretty damn cool.”   
Colin: “If I had the opportunity to tour with whoever I wanted, I would pick Parkway Drive, Black Tongue, The Front Bottoms, The Wonder Years, and Citizen.”
Care to provide a rig rundown of your equipment?
Mike: “I play an Agile 8 string and a Laguna 6 string. I run an Axe FX II through a Matrix GT1000FX Poweramp, both of which are powered by a Furman. I use a Mesa cab, and I use a Shure cordless system.”    
Bryan: “I play an Agile Septor 8 string and an Ibanez SA36FM 6 string. I run those through a Line 6 Pod HD 500 using a Peavey 6505 as the power supply coming from a Krank cabinet. With that combination, i get a pretty ballsy tone live.”
Colin: “I play a Washburn Bantam 6 string and a PBC 1995 Custom 5 string. I run a BBE Sonic Maximizer and a Aphex Aural Exciter/Big Bottom through an Ampeg B2R. My Rack then gets run through a Hartke 4x10 transporter and a Hartke 1x15.
Josh: I play on a basic Tama Imperialstar 5 piece set but with a Tama S.L.P snare. Cymbals are all zildjian A customs and Sabian AAxplosions

What's in store for the future?
Alex: “If everything works out, tours, more music, more shenanigans, and a hell of a lot of hard work. Regardless, we’re gonna keep chuggin along as best as we can.”
Mike: “We’re just pushing the album as hard as we can! We’ll be spreading links around the internet, playing shows and gearing up for tour this summer.”
Bryan “Hopefully more music!”
Josh: “The future’s looking pretty awesome. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that we can’t wait to play shows again. Tour was also the highlight of last summer and hopefully we can top it this year and make some new friends along the way!”
Colin: “The future has so much potential for us as long as we work hard and do what we love. We plan on touring and getting as many new fans and people involved in our music as we can. We love what we do and we hope to get to more places fans want to see us.”

Thank you for taking the time!
Bryan: “Thank you! It’s been a pleasure!”
Josh: “Am I famous yet?”
Mike: “SO LONGG, AND…”
Qual: “Goodnight”
Alex: “Thank you very much!”

written by Piotr Weiss

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