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Many unsigned bands dream of signing a record deal with a label as a step closer to fame. However, Exes For Eyes is determined to realise the dream of fame and the coveted platinum album award without the trappings of a record deal. The unconventional release of their second album, Tongues Like Figure Eights, is undeniable proof of their determination to keep their music accessible to their fans by keeping the middle men of record labels and studio producers out of the picture.
Tongues Like Figure Eights – The title song opens with a somewhat melancholy guitar melody before seamlessly shifting right into hard-rocking mode. Unfortunately, the vocals are nearly drowned out by the power of the guitar, bass and drums and the transition from the fading guitars to the instrumental outro could have been much smoother.
Done For Good – Melodically picking up right where the title song leaves off, this song features a pounding bass line and stellar bass solo by bassist Graham Porter as well as awesome riffs in the guitar solo by guitarist Dave Sheldon. Lead vocalist Big James Arsenian lets it all out in this anthem against a selfish former lover as he screams, “You f— take and take and take!”
I Will Stand My Ground – There is no denying that this song is all about the drums from the beginning to the end, and drummer Aaron Spink undeniably delivers. In stark contrast to Arsenian’s growling vocals, back-up vocalist Dave Sheldon’s vocals are melodically sweet yet seamlessly lead back to Arsenian’s powerful growls as if the vocals were from just one man singing as opposed to two.
Collision – This song barges right into your eardrum, starting off strong and fast before retreating to a slower, haunting pace only to shoot straight back to fast and loud to set the pattern of the majority of the song, feeling like the musical equivalent of a series of near-misses while driving.
Bleed the Stone – With an extremely catchy guitar riff starting off the song, this rant against parasitical “friends” who are out for all they can get from others is full of raw, genuine rage.
A Stronger Man – In almost certainly is a song in remembrance of a friend lost to suicide, Arsenian lets all of his anger, sadness and pain out for an incredibly powerful vocal performance beautifully balanced with the guitar and bass. The eerie guitar wails as the song fades out evoke thoughts of wailing at a funeral.
Remember Savannah – As close to metal ballads as this band gets, this song longingly looks back on the past and will linger in your mind long after the end of the track.
Parade of One – From a quiet start with an airy piano, this song quickly launches into a rapidly-paced military-style march with the killer drums, bass and guitar working in harmony to drive the song’s tempo to Arsenian’s nearly screamed lyrics and Sheldon’s haunting vocals in the second half of the song.
Shot in the Dark – Arsenian’s hushed growls at the start of this song will give you chills before the song knocks you backwards with a dramatic increase of volume and power with each retreat to quiet growls and jump forward with pounding guitars.
My Life vs. Your Vacation – This cheekily-titled song shows exactly how in-tune Arsenian and Sheldon are with each other, one picking right up where the other leaves off on this song about the rift between the vastly different lives of the rich and the poor.
Closure… – Although closing out a metal album with an instrumental may seem unusual, this final song on the album is like a soothing balm to the listener’s ears after experiencing such raw musical power in the previous ten songs.
Despite having recorded and produced the album without the aid of professionals, this album certainly does not sound like an amateur effort, even with the minor error of Arsenian’s vocals being overpowered by the rest of the band on the title song. While many bands tend to focus on just vocals or just guitars, the four guys of Exes For Eyes work together to create a thoroughly solid sound that stays balanced while letting each member of the band shine.
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