By Robin X Steeley (RS11)
Multi-platinum rockers Filter drop their latest, Crazy Eyes in April on Wind-up Records. Buzz has been circulating recently not just for the album, which is their 7th studio full-length release, but also for the video “Take Me To Heaven.” With sold out shows on their headlining Make America Hate Again Tour with Orgy, the band has certainly been rocking the boat. The Single, “Take Me To Heaven” debuted at #2 on New and Active radio charts and has been being added by many stations since. The band takes a more industrial, less guitar focused turn on this record without losing their edge or authenticity.
Filter’s founder, singer, guitarist and producer Richard Patrick might have said it best with the words “Reconstruction requires deconstruction.” From a production and musical standpoint, he clearly took these words to heart as the band deconstructs and rebuilds itself in a climax of musical chaos on Crazy Eyes. The album starts with the heavy “Mother E,” and the chant “I’ve got my reasons and my reasons are sound!” The technical familiar sound we have come to love came together slowly, but with more emphasis on the bands overall tone and production. The industrial alternative giants did seem to tear themselves apart and then rebuild, particularly with the opening track which starts as an anthem before coursing into some strange and ethereal moments and haunting melodies. The moody synth builds in with the growl just before an agonizing scream, but the most enchanting parts of this song are intimately just voice and strings, both haunting and lovely. One of my favorite lyrical runs, “I’ve got nothing but rage to kill the pain” is fantastic in its simplicity, but don’t let the pretty fool you, as it slams you in the back of the head and races towards the end of the song.
This is going to be a hard opener to top; it raises the expectations immediately. “Nothing In My Hands” is unequivocally different, without topping it does rise to another place, the driving rhythms and chorus being the shining point of this song, it’s got a more modern sound but with their signature vibe and beat structure. Next up is “Pride Flag” alternative and anthemic it focuses heavily on vocals and is something I can see being a soundtrack pick. It also highlights the musicianship and influence of newest bandmates guitarist Oumi Kapila and bassist Ashley Dzerigian, their skill profoundly apparent as is the percussion and programming skills of drummer Chris Reeve and keyboards from Bobby Miller heavily powering everything.
Starting with a pounding pace track “City Of Blinding Riots” has an industrialized flair and a grinding synthetic dance beat. It’s followed by their first single “Take Me To Heaven” which I’ve heard the most about. It’s not my absolute favorite on this record, but it’s a perfect single, catchy, infectious, fast-paced and radio friendly. The low end and lyrical message probably grabs me hardest in the song, more so then the instrumentation. It’s a stretch for this band, and shows their diversity as musicians. Written after the death of Patrick’s Father, I can connect with it poetically and that makes it a standout track. My favorite is probably “Welcome To The Suck” (Destiny Not Luck) which is an emotional beast of a song, from the beginning dreamlike feel to the inspired delivery it will leave you feeling full of raw, edgy restless energy. The more classic sounding “Head of Fire” and “Tremors” start to round out the finish, with the very catchy “Kid Blue From The Short Bus, Drunk Bus” an ironic title nod to their debut album, with its thrashing grind is a highlight as well as the slower burning “Under The Tongue” with its groovy almost alternative sensation, it’s a moody intro to the emotional final track “(Can’t She See) Head Of Fire, Part 2” with its temperamental ambient feel it concludes this organic trip through the strange new world of this band.
Produced by Richard Patrick who collaborated with producer Ben Grosse [Thirty Seconds To Mars, Marilyn Manson], and Michael “Blumpy” Tuller [Nine Inch Nails} Mixed by Brian Virtue (Janes Addiction, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Deftones) and mastered by Howie Weinberg (Van Halen, Mars Volta, The White Stripes) Crazy Eyes is an aural acid trip through Filter’s past and into their future. It’s far less rock guitar laden and has a heftier edge then the bands last effort and can even be compared to the band’s debut with its weirdly inviting, haunting yet industrial tainted melodies. It has some of the heaviest, catchiest, and it can even be said, filthiest Filter material yet. This is an important record for them. From the opening to the final track, this record contains barely withheld aggression buried inside breathy rasping vocals and uncanny screams, new material that is still easily recognizable as Filters signature, yet heavier more industrial, sound.
Strange is the word here, but it’s a GOOD kind of strange, like when you meet someone truly weird, but instantly like them. This album seemed to have the same effect on me. It’s not what you would call pretty or polished, but it IS fucking REAL. The design is immaculate, and it’s pure, unadulterated FILTER. Check them out on tour this summer, or go old school and go buy the actual CD! (SUPPORT!)