Review Summary: Wildly eclectic and forward-thinking, Ideas strikes a perfect balance between hardcore-infused fury, technicality and infectiousness.
Leeds-based Hawk Eyes have a knack for moulding a multitude of influences in their eclectic music. While their first album, Modern Bodies
(released as Chickenhawk back in 2010), drew valid comparisons to noise punk legends, Unsane, given its no holds-barred, relentless approach to heaviness, Ideas
departs from the previous full-length disc into a more diverse, fearlessly experimental direction. This doesn't mean that the quartet have resigned from such key components of their style as cascading guitar riffs, pounding bass lines, combative drumming and maniacal harsh vocals. The disc, in fact, vastly elaborates on the act's old sound, adding some unexpected facets that make their music particularly difficult to pin down.
contains a refreshing hybrid of styles with the group striking a perfect balance between hardcore-infused fury, math-rock technicality and infectious melodies that derive from alternative rock. Hawk Eyes sound spastic and experimental at one point only to become supremely accessible or even anthemic at the other. Their approach to a sonic onslaught relies heavily on frequent tempo changes, structural diversity and bizarre time signatures which can only match The Dillinger Escape Plan in their unpredictability. In addition, the songwriting feels admirably focused, yet oddly challenging throughout. The members of the band do a grand job in keeping their presentation fluid and, with its lean 40-minute running time, the album is suitably up-to-the-point as well as punishing in its delivery.
Paul Astick's versatile vocals are yet another asset of the disc. Aside from demented screams, his performance also features clean singing that frequently relies on arresting vocal harmonies. What's arguably the flashiest aspect of the disc is the multi-faceted guitarwork though. Both Astick and Rob Stephens deliver some of the most frantic and technical riffs in heavy rock. Opener “Witch Hunt” shrewdly incorporates plenty of superbly harmonized riffs into one biting whole, while dissonant “Yes, Have Some” sounds like Queens of the Stone Age on acid due to its peculiar rhythmic pattern. On the other hand, genre-bending “Bees” relies on a bludgeoning, sludgy riff in its ferocious chorus, being juxtaposed with spaced-out soloing in the track's finale.
Aptly titled Ideas
may be a melting pot of influences, yet Hawk Eyes have absolutely no difficulty blending them together coherently. Especially the powerful mid-section of the album proves this point. “Hollywood Sweatshop” advances swiftly through its dazzling, often punk-echoing progressions, whereas “The Meeting” combines irresistible funky groove and playful chanting vocals to an unabashedly fun effect. Even when Hawk Eyes happen to explore their safer mode with a decidedly more traditional approach to song craft, their compositions are way more sophisticated than their peers'. For instance, “Headstrung” boasts supreme vocal melodies and has a linear structure that surprises with a mellow, nearly art-rock bridge.
Such boundless creativity, coupled with uncanny musicianship and subversive lyrics, clearly showcases Hawk Eyes as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to heavy rock. Ideas
marks a major step in the ongoing evolution of the band. Endlessly daring and forward-thinking in its approach, this is one of the noisiest, yet most engrossing albums of the year.