(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
The long awaited sophomore release of the Detroit based quartet, Eyestrings has finally arrived, and with the promise of the band's debut album Burdend Hands the expectations for Consumption are quite high.
Here on Consumption chief songwriter/keyboardist/vocalist Ryan Parameter has looked to create another master work, and with help of the talented members of Eyestrings (guitarist Alan Rutter, bassist Matthew Kennedy and percussionist Bob Young) the band collaborate over 64 minutes of a myriad styles that makes this album a another joy to listen to.
Consisting of seven songs, Consumption is a bit more on the serious side, in comparison to the debut album, but yet the songs here are wonderfully crafted, similar to early Echolyn and Ryan's breathy vocals mesh beautifully especially on the softer tunes like the experimental album opener "All Sales Final" and the fantastic hook-laden "Valid For a Week".
The third track from Consumption is perhaps the album's strongest track, "Stagnant" is what makes Eyestrings different from many of their peers, with a moody track, but yet commercial enough to warrant radio play.
The first of two epics, Crimson-ish "Code Of Tripe" showcases the talents of Alan Rutter, who is bound to gain some notice for his Fripp-like soloing not only this song, but the rest of the album.
The somber mood of Consumption continues with "Slate Clean" which then is followed by the instrumental "Groove Seven" which picks up the pace.
Last but least is the album's longest piece "Lifelines", falls in to the pitfall of many bands that attempt such pieces, that as a whole, the song falls flat at parts, in the case of "Lifelines" the mixing is a bit shoddy especially the vocals, which at times making the lyrics hard to comprehend.
Has Eyestrings avoided the sophomore jinx with Consumption? The album's cover can be a bit spooky with the Golum-like creature, but the band avoided falling flat, and scored another great collection of songs, that fans of Echolyn and Spock's Beard would find this ambitious quartet to their liking....
Album rating: 3.75
I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again. One of the neat things about reviewing new music is finding gems to talk about. Sometimes you have to look hard to find them, other times they simply show up in the mail. Such was the case with the new Eyestrings CD entitled Consumption. Other than recognizing the name on the email I had little to go on. And I usually like to keep it that way with a new band. I like to have the music build an impression before I do too much research. More times than not I’m pleasantly surprised. Such was the case this time. From the moment Consumption hit the CD tray and the beginning strains of “All Sales Final” began churning out of the speakers I knew I was in for a real treat.
Michigan based Eyestrings is a four piece outfit consisting of Ryan Parmenter (vocals, keyboards), Alan Rutter (guitars), Mathew Kennedy (bass) and Bob Young (drums). Now many of you will recognize the “Parmenter” name and correctly guess a relationship with Matthew Parmenter of Discipline fame and that’s because Ryan is Matthew’s nephew. The connections go even a little deeper because bassist Mathew Kennedy was also a part of Discipline. So it would not be too much of a stretch to guess that Eyestrings bears a sonic resemblance. Not a clone by any stretch, but you will hear some distinct similarities. Much of the music of Eyestrings comes from the darker side of prog and might even be compared to Van der Graaf Generator both in terms of the compositions and Ryan’s vocals.
Consumption is the second release for the band and as such has 64 minutes of music stretched out over just 7 tracks. Other than a couple of shorter tracks we’re talking about some pretty involving compositions, dark and brooding, drawing the listener into the foreboding worlds within. The 12-minute track “Code of Tripe” comes the closest to the Discipline style probably because of Kennedy’s contributions. On the other hand, the 5-minute “Stagnant” has a very pleasant, almost melancholy feel. The CD finishes with the 20-minute multi-part epic “Lifelines.”
What makes Eyestrings unique is the way Ryan, who writes virtually all the music and lyrics is able to balance the dark and the light, the minors and the majors, the angry and the grateful. And he does a masterful job, as do each of the other band members whose contributions cannot be understated. This is not just a one-man show. Eyestrings is very much about building a dense symphonic wall of sound and then pulling it down leaving you listening to perhaps only voice and Mellotron and then allowing the piece to swell to conclusion. Each of the seven compositions harbors more than its share of mystery. At times the playing is intense and furious but then it easily slows to a moderate tempo, all the while playing with you emotionally. They’re well thought out compositionally and very well played.
If you’re a fan of either of the bands mentioned or others like them I can almost guarantee you’ll love Eyestrings. I know I was hooked from the first notes. Consumption is the kind of recording that has a lot of staying power on the player. This is a great sophomore release and really worth seeking out.