After a five-year slumber, The Heavy Eyes have reincarnated as a quartet, successfully adding guitarist and producer Matthew Qualls to the cohort. While this addition has brought some new textures and layers to Love Like Machines’s arrangements, much of the underlying vibe from their previous efforts remains, and that is just fine. The band has mastered the hard-psych rock imagery delivered from the shadowy abyss of the great beyond. Distorted, energetic riffs over a soundscape that focuses on echoey tones and powerful vocals carry the tunes that are direct, memorable, and never overstay their welcome.
The Heavy Eyes stay disciplined. Nine of the ten tracks clock in under four minutes and the crew avoid any self-aggrandizing instrumentals or overwrought wordplay. Deftly walking the fine line between simplicity and pretension, there is plenty of riff variation and the lyrical storytelling is enjoyable, even if it borrows heavily from the same morbid subject matter of ‘70s-era metal.
Considering all of this, the relatively gentle acoustic intro of “Anabasis” is an unexpected start to the set, but it lingers there only momentarily. Tripp Shumake’s lilts quickly transition into his signature growl that dominates the album and is a formidable instrument in its own right. Qualls’s production style feels organic, light-handed and fits seamlessly with the band’s ethos of straight-forward, punchy delivery, with just enough echo to create a large, cavernous sound that hints at “epic.” “Made for the Age” cranks up the tempo and distortion for the central riff that is driven by Eric Garcia’s tireless drumming. “Hand of Bear,” like its predecessors, is one of the three best cuts from the album and the first look at some of Shumake’s deft storytelling.
“God Damn Wolf Man” benefits from an impressive double-headed guitar attack that adds some different dynamics not just in the tones, but also in the members’ respective approaches to the instrument. Not to be outdone by the guitar pyrotechnics, the rhythm tandem of Garcia and bassist Wally Anderson lead a throbbing middle-third instrumental that is the highlight of the track. They also shine on “The Profession.” “A Cat Named Haku” brings together all the elements at their best, and serves as Love Like Machine’s highwater mark. Anderson’s grooving bass line pulls the song along while the album’s best guitar phrase creates the head-bopping music to accompany another one of Shumake’s stories.
The collection might strike some as a bit homogenous, with only “Bright Light” and “Vera Cruz” truly changing gears, but The Heavy Eyes aren’t trying to dazzle audiences with artistic re-inventions of their sound. If listeners liked their past albums, it’s a pretty safe bet that they will really enjoy this one. There are more than enough riffs, solos, and crashing drums for repeat listenings, and at a run time under 35 minutes, Love Like Machines makes it easy to replay. The ‘70s never sounded so good.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Made for the Age
– Hand of Bear
– A Cat Named Haku
The Big Hit
– A Cat Named Haku
Review by Willie Witten