Turbid North – Eyes Alive CD Review19th December 2015 0 By Fraser
Based in Alaska and Texas, and featuring the mighty Unearth’s touring bassist Chris O’Toole, Turbid North have recently unleashed their latest offering of death-tinged groove metal. A forty-five minute slab of neck snapping groove, Eyes Alive is without a doubt the band’s strongest offering to date.
Opening with the title track, Eyes Alive starts with a fade in before the pummelling drums, atmospheric riffs and shouted vocals kick in. As quick as the frantic speed kicked off, it slows right down to a sickeningly slow groove with some gruff clean vocals adding an excellent dash of variety. But the down-tempo riffing is short lived, and the speed picks up again leading into a shred-filled guitar solo before the groove takes over for the remainder of the song. The Pyramid Drones again opens fast with some excellent riffing and punishing drum work. Following a similar pattern to Eyes Alive, The Pyramid Drones dances between fast and thrashy to down-tempo, whiplash inducing groove while incorporating those brilliant, gruff clean vocals and some fast, brilliant solo work.Next up is the ten-tonne heavy Destroyer of Worlds, packed to breaking point with groove and outrageously heavy, this is a song that would see bones broken in a pit. Again, the trio get very flirtatious with changing tempos, but it works exceptionally well. Definitely an album highlight. Red Giant is an interesting interlude, but could have been just as effective, if not more so, if it was half the length. Coming in at four and a half minutes, the first half of the song is a mid-tempo, double bass driven passage that feels like it should be building to some earth-shattering riff work, but doesn’t really go anywhere. The second half, however, is a beautifully melodic and very blues influenced section – not that I have anything against the first half of the song as such, but if Red Giant was singularly focussed on this blues section, it would have been a truly beautiful break from the savage groove we’ve experienced so far.
As the melody of Red Giant comes to end, the punishing groove returns in the form of The Burning Sky. However, the trio work some of the stunning melodic work into this groove heavy track, and the beautiful, bluesy at times lead work coupled with those savage grooves make The Burning Sky another highlight of the album. From the offset, Black Sun Rising feels like it is going the same way as Red Giant, but after just over a minute the intro does actually move on, and Turbid North crack out some more absolutely filthy riffing. The leads at points feel almost Iron Maiden-esque HHand the vocals take a much more hardcore edge, but the clean singing here is absolutely on point. Another brilliant solo graces our ears which leads nicely into some almost metalcore riffing, before the groove steps up and takes control again.
Next up is the genre defying Bring Home The Motherlode – a nine minute slab of excellent song-writing, drawing influence from a vast variety of subgenres within metal. The track utilises both slow to mid-tempo groove and speedy, thrash influenced ferocity throughout the track. The first solo we here from Bring Home The Motherlode comes in about the three-minute mark, and after a brief interlude of speedy drumming and shouted vocals, the guitar takes centre stage once more. After a minute and a half of excellent guitar work that feels thrashy at points, bluesy at points, and groovy at points, the ferocity is put on hold and an atmospheric, proggy interlude takes over. That is, until the blues influenced leads kick back in, building up to the ferocity we have become familiar with – this ferocity is in command for much of the rest of the track. The word “epic” is thrown about a little too freely in this day and age, but the musicianship is truly justified to be called so.
Bring Home The Motherlode had a short, synth outro which leads in perfectly to the proggy intro of The Great Dying – one of the more melodic tracks on Eyes Alive, it has a soft, soothing feel up until the half way point, where the growled vocals and heavy riffing come in briefly. The heaviness is short lived, however, and The Great Dying switches back to the melody to close the track. Eyes Alive closes with Eternal Sleep, an outstandingly heavy groove machine. It artfully mixes all the influences and styles we’ve seen so far – hints of hardcore, thrash and death metal, heaps of groove reminiscent of the NWOAHM scene, almost bluesy guitar work in the solo and short atmospheric passages.
Eyes Alive is an interesting listen. Seamlessly fleeting between genres and jumping from slow, heavy grooves to million mile an hour shred and back again at the drop of a hat, the skill of these musicians is clear. This album will keep you on your toes, and you will be surprised by all the twists and turns. A solid release!
1. Eyes Alive
2. The Pyramid Drones
3. Destroyer of Worlds
4. Red Giant
5. The Burning Sky
6. Black Sun Rising
7. Bring Home the Motherlode
8. The Great Dying
9. Eternal Sleep
20th November 2015
Turbid North is…
Nick Forkel – Vocals, Guitars
Chris O’Toole – Bass
John Garrett – Drums
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About the author
This bearded wildman from North of the wall survives the harsh ever-present winter of Scotland on a healthy diet of thrash, death metal and beer.