26 March 2012
by David Keevill
Re-christened from the ashes of Chickenhawk, Hawk Eyes‘ full-length “debut”, Ideas, sees the band recommence a vigorous assault on complacency in music by making one of the most dangerous and interesting rock records of recent years. Not content with just being part of a demented touring schedule last year and releasing the five-punch EP of Mindhammers in December, Hawk Eyes have persisted in loosing the record equivalent of a full fucking cranial episiotomy.
The joy of Hawk Eyes isn’t so much that they can shit harder riffs than most metal bands (and do so on an incredibly frequent basis), but more because the shapes and textures that they can craft out of said riff-shits. Ideas barrels along at breakneck speed, switching between full-pace riff carnage and melodic intersections, without ever really losing momentum. Paul Astick’s vocals are noticeably less of a growl this time around, with him opting for cleaner fare, which does mean we’ve lost the blackened dichotomy of songs like the anthemic ‘I Hate This, Do You Like It?’ (from 2010’s Modern Bodies), but what we’ve gained by-and-large makes up for this.
The album opens with the direct smash of ‘Witch Hunt’, and quickly moves into more experimental climes. The itchy musicianship of Skyspinners is an enjoyable mess that breaks down into a slow burning meander half way through only to build back up to full pace, without missing a beat. ‘Yes Have Some’ is one of the album’s highlights; the repetitive high-end guitars are spindly and sound like hive of infuriated bees whilst the lyrics are a punchy call-out. The ability of Hawk Eyes to pull together so many different elements is what makes this such a repeatable listen. By being able to capture moments of sheer insanity coupled with unmatched melody and belting guitar riffs, they ensure that in coming back to this record you’ll always be able to find something new.
The band venture into Devin Townsend realms of complete loopiness with songs like the abject brutality of ‘Milk Hog’ and the nonsensical refrain of “I want milk / I want more milk”. The song ‘You Deserve A Medal’ is furious and yet boasts an infectious vocal hook of “It’s small from the top when you look from the bottom” that seemingly means something to Hawk Eyes, but sounds like the band have inched another step towards the asylum. Astick’s vocals all the while remain fluid and are able to flip between soaring melody and racing screams, creating an unsettling yet immersive experience.
Hawk Eyes have constructed an astoundingly diverse and coarse demonstration of metal, at a time when most other bands don’t dare to veer from more well-trodden paths. Ideas is a record filled with bombastic crunch and genuinely intriguing obscurity. If there’s any justice, it will shore up their claim to the highest reaches of Britain’s hard-rock hierarchy.
Sounds Like: An asylum full of riffs.
Standout Tracks: Yes Have Some, Headstrung, Bees