|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By: Random Eyes|
|Record Label: Bullroser||Country Of Origin: Finland|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 42:37|
Finland’s Random Eyes has experienced its share of turnover since putting out its 2003 debut Eyes Ablaze. Gone are guitarists Timo Kuusjarvie, Mikko Tuliniemi and Samual Hoisko, bassist, Timo Maki-Marttunen, drummer Timo Peltokangas and co-lead vocalist Katja Katja Rimpelainen; replaced by guitarists Heikki Paananen and Olli Tanttu, bassist Voitto Rintala (Renascent) and drummer Markus Niemispelto (Mehida). The lone holdover is lead vocalist Christian Palin. With its new line up solidified, Random Eyes returned to the studio and recorded its most recent effort, the melodic metal and hard rock of its spring of 2008 Bullroser Records debut Invisible.
The long wait of five years between albums has proved worthwhile in that Invisible showcases some of the finest material from the group to date. Up-tempo tracks “Deep Waters” and “Living For Tomorrow” both stand out with abundant melodies as does the energetic sounds of “Alive” and “New Flow” (plenty of time changes on these two). A mid-tempo heading is taken on “Where I Belong” and “For Your Love”, two emotional pieces making effective use of acoustic guitar, in addition to the guitar driven metal of “Take Me Away”. The albums classy title track and faith based “For All The Nations” combine the best of both worlds- heavy AND catchy.
Christian Palin proves a top of the line vocalist with a style occasionally hinting at Michael Sweet (Stryper) and Lance King (Avian). Mostly staying in smooth sounding territory, Christian can reach down low and add some backbone to his delivery or even cut loose in gritty and gravelly fashion. Quite the versatile showing that helps rank him with my favorite vocalists to come out of Northern Europe in recent years.
Heikki Paananen and Olli Tanttu are responsible for the albums guitar driven edge. Rhythm guitar there is in abundance, more than enough to push the groups sound well within metal territory (just check out the albums heavier pieces such as “Take Me Away” and “Invisible). It is on lead guitar, however, that the two fall a bit short- an area I also complained about in my review of Eyes Ablaze. The main problem is that neither cut loose as they should (or I might hope) in that only a few tracks here feature any type of relevant lead guitar (“Where I Belong” – with its neo-classical soloing – and “For Your Love” both come to mind). Otherwise, the material on Invisible finds its instrumental passages – as brief as they are – sustained by rhythm guitar.
Production values fail to disappoint in showcasing sonics of the crisp and clean sounding variety.
Lyrics were not included with the albums packaging but songs such as “Scriptures”, “Where I Belong” (in which Christian snarls “I keep the faith!”) and “For All The Nations” (that talks about how “Only the holy blood of Christ. It will wash your sins away”) leave little doubt as to where Random Eyes is coming from.
Album opener “Deep Waters” can best be described as quintessential melodic metal, amalgamating an edge laden rhythm guitar and accentuating keyboards with quite the catchy chorus (reinforced by distant vocal harmonies). The only missing piece to the puzzle is a killer guitar solo. Still, a great song.
“Living For Tomorrow” begins to acapella vocal harmonies before launching into an aggressively delivered riff. Tapering off for its first verse as the rhythm guitar fades to the backdrop, the song gains momentum as the rhythm guitar returns to its place of prominence to drive a hook driven chorus delivered in hard hitting fashion. Second great song in a row.
“Alive”, another example of energetic and up-tempo metal, is characterized by its contrasts. From the all out heavy duty riff that occasionally makes its presence felt, to verse portions on the subdued side of things, to a melodic based chorus (in which a bottom heavy setting is put into place), this one gives us plenty of variety. And quality as well.
“New Flow”, with its occasional use of forwardly mixed keyboards, reminds me of fellow Finnish melodic metal bands Mehida and Wingdom. The song kicks up quite the storm during its furious verse portions only to settle down, surprisingly, upon reaching a chorus on the laid back side of things. Similar to “Alive” a nice contrast is established in the process.
I might rank the creative “Where I Belong” with the albums finest tracks. The song starts quietly to an acoustic guitar before the rhythm guitar steps forward, a swell of rumbling impetus pushing things forward until an abundant chorus shored up by vocal harmonies is obtained. Heavy, bluesy, emotional and giving rise to occasionally outbursts of neo-classical lead guitar, this one has it all (put “Where I Belong” on any Stryper album and it would sound right at home).
“For Your Love” follows the same pattern of “Where I Belong” by opening to an acoustic guitar that gives way to a vibrant rhythm guitar. Also similar to “Where I Belong”, “For Your Love” proves a terrific piece, put over the top by the emotional feel to its sweeping – almost prevailing – chorus. Nothing less than an inspired work, “For Your Love” is nearly worth the price of the album alone.
After two tracks on the mid-tempo side of things, “Scriptures” returns the album to an upbeat heading. Rollicking forward from the start to an energetic guitar riff, the song roars ahead in an unrelenting manner before decelerating (if only slightly) for a smooth sounding chorus with a tinge of keyboards highlighting the background.
The mid-tempo metal of “Take Me Away” draws upon a pronounced rhythm guitar sound and joins it with accentuating keyboards and occasional runs of spicy lead guitar. Plenty of groove is delivered here along with a flowing chorus allowing Christian to exhibit the full range to his voice.
“For All The Nations” brings to mind much of the material of Eyes Ablaze. (As a matter of fact, this one sounds as if it were written with the lead vocal trade off between Christian and Katja in mind.) Musically, the song gets underway to an aggressive guitar riff only to settle down for its driving verse portions and a poignantly charged chorus that finds the band making a statement of faith:
There is mercy over you
Nothing else will set you free
Only the holy blood of Christ
It will wash your sins away
I might describe “You Are The Reason” as the albums least notable track. While far from filler, the song lacks that extra spark of energy and drive the better material here brings to the table. Straightforward melodic rock occasionally laced with piano and vocal harmonies, “You Are The Reason” might have held up better with a stronger chorus and run of tasty lead guitar.
Closing things out is the albums stylish title track. “Invisible’ proves quite the compelling number, characterized by its unrelenting and upbeat tempo and infectiously delivered chorus- perfectly accented by female vocal harmonies. All in all, this one does a great job showcasing the musical maturity gained by Random Eyes since releasing Eyes Ablaze five years ago.
Invisible adds up to nine great songs, one that is very good and one I tend to skip over. Production values are sound as well. All in all, a very solid 80%. That said, the lack of lead guitar is the main area of improvement worth noting. (Perhaps the guys can bring in a killer lead guitarist - Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia) and Markus Sigfridsson (Harmony, Darkwater) both come to mind - next time around.) Still, if you are looking for a solid melodic metal album with strong chorus hooks and top of the line lead vocals you can do no wrong with Invisible.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Deep Waters” (4:09), “Living For Tomorrow” (3:41), “Alive” (3:18), “New Flow” (3:56), “Where I Belong” (4:24), “For Your Love” (4:17), “Scriptures” (3:37), “Take Me Away” (3:11), “For All The Nations” (4:39), “You Are The Reason” (3:30), “Invisible” (4:02)
Christian Palin – Lead Vocals
Heikki Paananen – Guitars
Olli Tanttu - Guitars
Voitto Rintala - Bass
Markus Niemispelto – Drums
Timo Kuusijarvi – Guitars
Jussi Jauhiainen - Guitars
Mikko Harkin – Keyboards
Kai Poutanen – Additional Keyboards
Katja Palin – Background Vocals