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Beak - "Eyrie" (CD)

Beak - "Eyrie" CD cover image

"Eyrie" track listing:

1. Angry Mother Of Bones (4:05)
2. Hands Collide (5:10)
3. Men At Arms (7:31)
4. Billions Of Eyes (3:26)
5. The Weight & Time (4:35)

Reviewed by on April 17, 2012

"A tightly-woven album with five songs of no filler, it’s a compact epic for a generation weaned on digital downloads, who balk at the idea of sitting down and listening to a whole album at once."

For bands attempting a conceptual piece of music, they may use exorbitant interludes or spoken narrative to spoon feed the narrative to the clueless audience. Beak needs none of this musical accompaniment, nor does it need more than 25 minutes, to travel through the march of time on “Eyrie.” A tightly-woven album with five songs of no filler, it’s a compact epic for a generation weaned on digital downloads, who balk at the idea of sitting down and listening to a whole album at once.

“Eyrie” is a thick album, not only in content, but in the guitar tones. There are no studio tricks, at least none that clean up the muck off the instruments. When the band gets into a sludge break, with the two guitarists chugging out riffs that can only be described by using the cliche “heavy,” it’s a sonic doomsday device that wipes out any life in surrounding areas. It’s hard to make this style of music tuneful, yet Beak has a way about them that makes these songs leave an impression.

Though the abrasive material encompasses a large portion of “Eyrie,” each song has at least one stretch of time with an atmosphere-driven breakdown. It’s usually a period of clean guitars, as an analog Russian synthesizer called a polivoks gives a peculiar post-metal taste to the song. This is best used in the middle of “Hands Collide” and the substantial opening to “Men At Arms.” That track, right dead center in the album, is the shining moment for Beak; its seven minutes goes from lush to depressing to bleak.

The band won’t be praised for being technical players, as they work within the confines of what’s best for the song and not themselves. There a few heightened moments with the guitars providing some lead work on “Hands Collide” and “Angry Mother Of Bones.” The dual vocals from guitarist Jon Slusher and bassist Jason Goldberg scream and yell like a bunch of men with repressed memories of childhood tragedy. It can be difficult to pick out every lyric with the vocal approach, but it’s suitable for the music.

While there will be some disappointment at the short length of “Eyrie,” it will be more because the quality of the material warrants more songs. It’s a tease, like those little samples passed around at a party. Just having one or two on a tiny plate isn’t enough to satisfy a growling stomach, and five songs just doesn’t cut it. That makes an eventual follow-up even more desirable. The band has come from the windy city of Chicago to let in a strong gust of frosty air to post-metal with the excellent debut album “Eyrie.”

Highs: Post-metal with style, keys used to heighten atmosphere, thick guitar tones

Lows: Ends just as it starts to pick up, hits its peak in the middle and doesn't reach it again with the last two tracks

Bottom line: A solid piece of post-metal that has a nice conceptual theme and a heavy, yet melodic, backbone.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)