I don’t want to keep looking back at 2020 and harping on how bad it was, so I won’t. Instead, I will harp on how fucking good it was for new music releases. Some truly inspired, even life-changing records were spawned last year, right under our noses. And on the last day of that year, while we all looked outwards towards a hopefully not-as-shit-fucked 2021, Maryland’s heavy hitters Eyelet dropped one bone-splitter of an LP.
The Devil Shining Out Your Eyes melts down your mom’s fine silver and forges it into a deadly collection of razor-sharp songs. White-hot guitar leads spear through the low-tuned rhythm section, coating the band’s dour chugging riffs with molten threads of consonance. Incandescent flashes of fury pop off in the band’s performances through syncopated hits and sudden dynamic transitions; they often build grandiose, colorful chord progressions just to drop them into a deep pit of distortion and pummeling rhythms.
And that’s one thing Eyelet seems to love on Devil—crafting spirals of beauty to adorn their vicious performances. The guitars constantly stretch into the high register with sudden sprinkles of melodics over the maelstrom of the rhythm section. The soft, spacious bridge of “When I Am Turned to Stone” picks us up in luminous hands of melody, then tosses us off a cliff into a pounding sea of low-end hits. The ethereal “Succession of the Asphodels” lulls the listener into an atmosphere of beauty and calm, which is suddenly ripped from beneath them with the closing track “Adrift.” Eyelet writes really pretty songs, but plays them like they are scoring a gladiator fight—every track embraces its beauty, but also its beastliness.
One of my favorite aspects of The Devil Shining Out Your Eyes has to be the drums. The wild, wrathful performances hit like shots of adrenaline, as each drum is battered with an almost animalistic ferocity. Yet that caveman fury is directed through intricate, technical writing which reflects the emotional content of the songs. Songs like “Inevitability” and “When I Am Turned to Stone” feel steered by the percussion; the driving beats at the very base of the song uphold the energy while giving the strings room to be as melodic or noisy as they wish. The pattern of the outro in “See How You Writhe” expertly accents the 12/8 time signature, keeping the listener lodged in the meditative hits even as the drummer explores their entire kit with each repeat.
Eyelet has a clear talent for crafting dynamic immersive compositions that embrace light along with the darkness. This attitude bleeds into the lyrical content of Devil as well, addressing one of the most dubious yet definite experiences of life: dying. “Unborn” leeches doubts that there is anything but blackness after this life, while “Inevitability” kicks off with a delightfully gruesome burial image: “Down into the belly of the swollen ground.” “Sap” paints a poignant scene of someone suddenly facing up to their own mortality: “Never have I been concerned about the brevity of this consciousness / Never before consumed by the overwhelming urge to grasp onto longevity.”
There are enough macabre images on The Devil Shining Out Your Eyes to fill a graveyard, but they couple with the soaring and hopeful compositions to bring both opposing perspectives onto the subject of death. Where the rabid, raging vocals scream furiously up to the sky, the instruments bloom like a funeral bouquet, accenting that loss does not just take from the living, but also offers them beauty and growth.
The Devil Shining Out Your Eyes carves a very unique road between mountainous melody and valleys of dissonant shadow, and walks that path with absolute certainty. Eyelet’s new LP has lava running through its veins—every track roars with emotion and energy, poking at the hot coals of the heart to reignite the passion that lies within. If I could, I would retroactively add this record to my “Top 5 of 2020” list (move over Smashing Pumpkins) because it is truly that impactful of a listen. So quit reading this thing already and go listen yourself ya GOOF.
My Top Track: “See How You Writhe”
The Devil Shining Out Your Eyes is available for streaming on Bandcamp and Spotify; physicals are sold out as of now (but they ought do a re-press ). For all things Eyelet, follow them on Facebook and Instagram @eyeletmd.