Review Summary: “Hope you’re alright, it’s been rough for me”
In the years of my yesteryouth I too rocked nu-metal, but as maturity came, my understanding and appreciation of music evolved with it. The uninspired riffs, shallow lyrical content and generally talentless cesspool that was nu-metal was just too much to bear; in light of this, a few nu-metal albums easily outshined their counterparts and are still worth listening to today; one such album is Flaw’s 2001 major label debut Through the Eyes
, which pits dark, ominous rhythms of the heavy variety alongside remarkably passionate vocals that showcase a surprising level of maturity.
While most nu-metalers were preoccupied with writing tiresome pump-up jams that were a dime-a-dozen, Flaw vocalist Chris Volz opted to write about his unique life experiences that included growing up in foster care and the additional struggles that came with it. Specifically, this adopter in which he adored so much committed suicide when Volz was only 12-years-old. Volz then turned to music as an emotional outlet, and the music reflects it; the vocal efforts are a combination of stable, melodic cleans and mid-range growls that could symbolically represent the rollercoaster that was his childhood. One of the beautiful things about music is that sincerity just can’t be faked; in the opening track, Volz sentimentally sings:
Maybe things happen for a reason
And wherein lies the answer
To overcome the grieving of life’s unruly lessons
I’m handed in succession
It builds my pain which makes me strong…
Guitarist Jason Daunt notes a slew of virtuosos as his main influences, but ironically those influences don’t play themselves out at all on this record. The guitars are detuned, ultra heavy, doomy, and consist almost entirely of chords. They are also very bottom-heavy and contribute well to the thematic concepts of the album. That said, I would’ve liked to see Daunt sporadically include a more technical side at moments where it would’ve fit.
The best song on the album hands down is “My Letter”, a ballad (per se) non-the-less. The track follows the typical clean verse, distorted chorus structure but uses rolls on the snare during the verse to keep it interesting; it finally erupts during the bridge where Volz sings One more friendship ends, and then for a while, I can breathe again
; it then swings back around to the chorus which begins with Hope you’re alright, it’s been rough for me…
“My Letter” is yet another testament to the arduous life Volz has had to endure.
Despite all these positive things, there are some problems. The latter half of the album has a lot of borderline-filler that doesn’t spew emotion like the beginning tracks; “Scheme” and “Best I Am” specifically fall into that category. Fortunately, there isn’t a single song that is weak enough to be called flat-out bad, though. The anger and psychological distress littered throughout the rest of the album easily make up for these lackluster moments.
In closing, had Through the Eyes
curbed a bit of the filler in the second half of the album, this could’ve been a serious candidate for a Classic rating. Through the Eyes
remains the one album of its time in which I still retain a strong emotional connection. The passion, the pain, the hauntingly heavy chords- it all combines to create something special. You certainly won’t find anything stunning in terms of musicianship, but the artistry is unquestionable. Through the Eyes
is a heart-felt work that seamlessly combines raw power and feelings of doom. While none of us like experiencing sorrow and the sting of pain, those very same emotions can often spawn the best creative works. While most nu-metal bands are all but forgotten, Through the Eyes