REVIEW: FILTER – “Crazy Eyes”
In a musical landscape that has become saturated with safe, catchy chords and bland songwriting, there are some bands that experiment and push the envelope of their sound with an unconventional approach. My exposure to such music has been relatively low, but I’m always entranced by the unknown. Filter is one such act.
I never listened to a lot of industrial rock in the past, but always enjoyed it whenever I did. Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson were some of the acts I was into back in the day, but from whom I grew apart since I thought the entire scope of Industrial Rock was a bit one-dimensional. How wrong was I?
‘Crazy Eyes’ is my first excursion into industrial rock/metal in over a decade, and now that I have matured a bit, I see many different layers and aspects to this record. It’s produced by vocalist/frontman/guitarist Richard Patrick, who’s gone out of his way to write about things that matter to him and the world. It’s some sort of constrained aggression, swimming over a sea of beat-heavy rhythm. It is a heavy album.
The album opener “Mother E” starts easy and then explodes into screams of anguish, with some really unsettling melodies and drones. This trend is then toppled on its head with “Nothing In My Hands”, which has a very catchy chorus and a structured alternative metal vibe to it, considering the strong underlying subject matter related to the Michael Brown shooting. This album features some uncanny influences, prominently on the track “Pride Flag”, featuring a section reminiscent of Muse.
The stand-out track on this record is “Take Me To Heaven”. It’s almost as if the 90’s have come back and we are witnessing the heyday of grunge era. You can easily hear the amazing interplay between Ashley Dzerigian’s Bass and Oumi Kapila’s guitar. It’s got some complex emotions riding on it, seeing how it was written after Patrick had suffered the loss of someone close to him.
There are a lot of free-jams that take place on this record. Chris Reeve and Ashley square off against each other on drums and bass respectively in the song “Tremors”. There are clear pop-punk influences on the track “Kid Blue From The Short Bus” followed by another dosage of mid 2000’s alternative rock in the track “Your Bullets”.
The album closes off with an atmospheric ballad “(Can’t She See) Head of Fire, Pt. 2”, and it is on this track that you realize something that you’ve been subject to all throughout this album. The DJ handling the programming and keyboard work on the album, Bobby Miller, paints the core sound of this album in its darkest and truest form.
Filter is a bit odd and quirky, but ultimately creative and courageous in their scope. ‘Crazy Eyes’ is by far the most experimental and daring effort of this year yet. Although this record does suffer from a similar sound and approach to the singing, there is just enough emotion and mystery in it to keep in interesting. This is an album that takes multiple listens to appreciate the soundscapes, but it is worth the time and effort.