|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Random Eyes & Arttu Sarvanne|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Finland|
|Year Released: 2003||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 42:10|
The origin of the Finnish hard rock band Random Eyes dates back to 1999 when guitarist Timo Kuusjarvie formed a friendship with vocalist Christian Palin while both were serving in the Finnish army. After the two crossed paths again in 2002, Palin met vocalist Katja Rimpelainen and presented the idea to her of singing alongside him in a metal band. Upon acquiring guitarist Mikko Tuliniemi (Hallowed), drummer Timo Peltokangas (also Hallowed) and bassist Jukko Koponen, the band officially assumed the name Random Eyes. The five piece unit proceeded to take first place in a nationwide battle of the bands contest in the spring of 2002. With the momentum of the victory behind it, Random Eyes finalized its line up with the addition of guitarist Samual Hoisko (Hallowed) and a new bassist in Timo Maki-Marttunen before entering the studio later the same year to record its full length debut Eyes Ablaze.
I might describe Eyes Ablaze as straightforward melodic hard rock with an occasion tendency towards catchy melodic metal or even power metal. The band stands out with two equally talented lead vocalists in Palin and Rimpelainen. I really enjoy how the two share lead vocal duties throughout the album, often trading off between each verse while singing in harmony upon reaching the chorus. Despite the fact Random Eyes has three guitarists, however, the area of lead guitar is a glaring weakness in its performance. For example, it is not uncommon for the instrumental portions of each track to be either too short in length or missing altogether. This is an area in need of great improvement. The rhythm section of Peltokangas and Maki-Marttunen performs capably.
Eyes Ablaze gives prominence to a polished production job with full and warm sounding sonics. The rhythm guitar stands out in an upfront and crisp sounding manner. The rhythm section receives a clean mix. Only the lead guitar fails to rise above the instrumentation as it should.
Please visit the bands website for the lyrics to each song in addition to a listing of the musicians performing on the album. (Neither is included with the albums packaging.)
The crisp rhythm guitar getting "Hero" underway plays a reduced role in the mix once Katja takes over on lead vocals. As the song gains momentum, the rhythm guitar returns to its place of prominence and conveys it to a good catchy chorus. Christian assumes lead vocal duties during the songs second verse before it advances to an instrumental passage featuring several seconds of the albums best lead guitar work.
The bouncing guitar riff at the start of "Faith" gives way to a punchy bass line that impels the song forward at the start of its first verse. Once the rhythm guitar returns hard and heavy, "Faith" picks up in pace and reaches a strong chorus driven at an upbeat tempo. The only drawback to the song comes in the form of its lack of an instrumental passage.
Fading in to a brief keyboard solo, "Son Of Perdition" moves ahead to a crisp sounding rhythm guitar that recedes into the background at the start of its first verse. The rhythm guitar rebounds to the songs forefront as it reaches a chorus underlined by trace a of piano in the background. An instrumental passage featuring several seconds of watered down lead guitar work fails to make the grade.
Several seconds of quietly played guitar initiates "New Creation" before the rhythm guitar quickly fades into a place of prominence in the mix. After Christian helps take the song through its verse in an upbeat manner, he sings in harmony with Katja during a sweeping chorus reinforced by a crisp rhythm guitar. The restrained lead guitar work carrying the song over its last thirty seconds does not quite cut it.
"Soldier" takes off to a ton of guitar driven energy that quickly propels it forward until it crests for a very fine melodic flavored chorus. The pedestrian rhythm guitar harmony holding sway over its instrumental passage is to be found wanting, while the lead guitar work closing out the song also fails to inspire.
The ballad "Little Angel" opens to a quietly played guitar line prior to picking up in pace when Christian's smooth sounding voice enters the mix in conjunction with the rhythm guitar. Progressing through its first verse at a slower more mid-tempo pace, Christian sings in harmony with Katja as the song reaches a chorus with a good commercial flavored hook.
A combination of rhythm and lead guitar backed by a punchy bass line introduces "Tears". Subsequent to the rhythm guitar moving to the backseat in the mix for the song first verse, it comes back in a choppy manner as it picks up in pace for a stylish chorus in which Christian and Katja also sing in harmony. The lack of an instrumental passage is the only complaint worth noting.
Opening to twenty seconds of rhythm guitar harmony, "Fallen" slows to a quietly played guitar line upon reaching its first verse. As the song incrementally picks up in pace, the rhythm guitar returns hard and heavy and drives it to a chorus carried by just the right amount of up energetic momentum. The rhythm guitar harmony driving an all too brief instrumental passage fails to keep my attention.
"Fantasy" begins to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar before Christian steps forward on lead vocals. Advancing through its first verse in strong and steady fashion, the song evenly flows to a non-stop hook filled chorus. Twenty seconds of sharp sounding lead guitar work helps place "Fantasy" among the albums better tracks.
Eyes Ablaze closes to a very well done power ballad in "Tomorrow Will Come". Katja sings over a quietly played guitar line at the start of the songs first verse until Christian takes over as the rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix. Following a catchy chorus in which the two sing in harmony, Christian handles lead vocals and carries the song to its close.
A great deal of credit goes to Random Eyes for the strength of its songwriting in that all ten songs on Eyes Ablaze hold up under repeated play. Nevertheless, I find it frustrating that the lead guitar work of a band with three guitarists turns out to be a weakness. I cannot help but encourage Random Eyes to develop more confidence in its instrumental sound as it works on material for its follow up effort. All in all, however, as a result of the promise Random Eyes shows on Eyes Ablaze, I am looking forward to hearing more from this talented band in the future.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Hero" (4:55), "Faith" (3:56), "Son Of Perdition" (4:17), "New Creation Girl" (4:23), "Soldier" (3:51), "Little Angel" (4:58), "Tears" (4:05), "Fallen" (3:56), "Fantasy" (3:35), "Tomorrow Will Come" (4:09)
Katja Rimpelainen – Lead Vocals
Christian Palin – Lead Vocals
Timo Kuusjarvie - Guitars
Mikko Tuliniemi - Guitars
Samual Hoisko – Guitars
Timo Maki-Marttunen – Bass
Timo Peltokangas - Drums