Album Review: The Exploding Eyes Orchestra – I

The Exploding Eyes Orchestra are more than just your typical side-project. It may include five-sevenths of psychedelic rockers Jess and the Ancient Ones (and yes, comparisons will be made to JATAO because of the undeniably powerful vocal presence of Jess herself), but takes things in a direction rather different than that of its parent band. Svart Records are known for having an eclectic roster, and while bluesy stoner rock may not be the first thing that comes to mind when the Finnish label is mentioned, there’s plenty of space from which this musical excursion can carve out its own niche. Started by Thomas Corpse as a vehicle for music that was deemed unfitting for JATAO, he recruited four of its members (as to whom, your guess is as good as mine – biographical details are scant at best) to produce something different from the norm.

This has resulted in what was meant to be a double album, but it’s instead been split into two volumes; ‘II’ follows next year and is apparently a more pared-down set, the Yang to its sister album’s Yin. That remains to be seen (or rather, heard), but ‘I’’s power has been in no way diluted by its presentation as a single volume. It takes its cues from classic rock, blues and more experimental forms of music, with opener ‘The Smoke’ serving as a riff-driven taster of what’s to come, its relentless pace setting the tone for the record as a whole. Even in its softer moments, such as the piano-flecked ballad ‘Crazy Heart’, and the unsettlingly dark atmosphere of penultimate track ‘Black Hound’ (which, fittingly enough, is built around an excerpt of a reading of H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Hound’), ‘I’ is intense and ambitious, refusing to let up even when things slow down.

Arguably its most accessible track is ‘My Father the Wolf’, so start there if you’re looking for an easy entry point, and the rest will come in time. The whole thing is put together so well that it sounds more like the work of five accomplished musicians pushing their limits than anything else. At seven tracks and 41 minutes in length, it’s plenty on its own, but if you listen to it and wonder how it’ll be complemented by the follow-up, you’re not alone. There’s much to enjoy, with the album taking on a more progressive flair on its closing track, ‘Farewell to All-in-One’, bowing out in style and whetting appetites nicely for next year and the continuation of The Exploding Eyes Orchestra’s story.

3.5/5

‘I’ by The Exploding Eyes Orchestra is out now on Svart Records.

The Exploding Eyes Orchestra links: Facebook|Bandcamp

Words by Gareth O’Malley (@riversidemethod)

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