Crazy Eyes


Wind-Up, 2016

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


He’s got his reasons and his reasons are sound.

So sayeth Robert Patrick at the outset of “Mother E,” the screaming industrial track that opens Filter’s seventh album. It’s not a good song by any means – shouting “Mother” didn’t work for the Police on Synchronicity, and it doesn’t work now – but Patrick really sells his creepy killer tale. It’s an audacious way to open the album, a way to weed out those who vaguely remember these guys from “Take A Picture” or 1995’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot.”

It’s also proof that Filter isn’t resting on its laurels, recreating Short Bus over and over in hopes of recapturing commercial magic. Although there are a couple of shout-outs to the debut in both lyrics and sound, this is a modern rock album with current political references in mind, including the riots in Baltimore and the Godawful Republican presidential race (fun fact: Filter’s tour for this disc is called the Make America Hate Again Tour, if that gives you any indication where Patrick’s sensibilities lie).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Granted, Filter can’t help but sound like Nine Inch Nails in spots, especially on “Nothing In My Hands,” but one has to remember that Patrick started out as a touring guitar player for Trent Reznor’s band before starting Filter, so it’s in his DNA. Besides, when the songs are as energetic and industrial as “Pride Flag,” it’s a welcome sound. Patrick heartily embraces the loud/soft dynamic of so much ’90s alternative rock, often taking breaks in the middle of a song for a quiet piece, pausing for a minute, and then screaming his way back into the chorus. The best songs here match the clangy industrial chug with a melodic chorus, the way the best Filter songs always do, and this is easily their best effort since The Amalgamut.

“Take Me To Heaven” is a great choice for leadoff single; while not representative of the album as a whole, it showcases the more melodic, radio-friendly side of the band, which means it doesn’t push boundaries or explore blatant political themes like most of Crazy Eyes, but rather consolidates the band’s attack into a consumable whole. “Head Of Fire” also tweaks the songwriting with an unconventional approach and “Tremors,” while not as strong vocally, injects a nervy punk energy into the drumming that kicks the song to another level.

“Kid Blue From The Short Bus, Drunk Bunk” is the obvious homage to the debut, but it doesn’t really sound like one other than in Patrick’s relatively restrained shout-singing and in the throwback riffage, which would make Slash proud. “Your Bullets” follows a similar pattern, while the powerful instrumental “Under The Gun” gives the entire band a chance to shine in a slow burn. It’s a jam session to be sure, and not one they will likely play on stage except perhaps as a warmup (or to give Patrick’s raspy voice a rest). The disc then closes with an acoustic reprise of “Head Of Fire” that doesn’t really go anywhere and ends with two minutes of atmospheric noodling, a curious choice for an album that mostly values power over subtlety.

It’s evident that the current political climate has tapped a nerve in Patrick’s singing and songwriting, as the album is less produced than his more recent efforts, allowing the rawness of the singing and emotion to bleed through as much as the in-the-red riffs. Not every song works, but those that don’t hew closer to an industrial formula instead of the detours that make Filter great. Turns out Patrick has his reasons after all… and they’re sound.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2016 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Wind-Up, and is used for informational purposes only.