Underperformer is Danish metallic hardcore quintet Eyes debut full-length album and follows on from their 2018 Self-Titled EP. Jon Gotlev/No Heroes has created the artwork for the release which immediately brought to mind Ian Mackaye’s melodic post-hardcore Egg Hunt project, the cover of which features Ian’s head protruding through a hole in the ceiling. The band, who only formed in 2017, consist of Victor Kaas – vocals, Rasmus Furbo – guitar, Søren Bomand – guitar, Kenn Bendtsen – bass, and Simon Djurhuus on drums.
The album opens with Verge, a steady build-up lasts for just over a minute and a half before we’re hit with a riff reminiscent of vintage Snapcase, while the vocals remind me a little of Refused’s Dennis Lyxzén. Blastbeats are evident during the track but in short bursts, resulting in what can only be described as controlled chaos. Unlike with Verge, Distance hits you straight from the off, thundering drums and shrieked vocals, there is definitely no room for subtlety. It makes an immediate impact and that’s really what you want from hardcore, a real smack in the face with ‘no fannying about’ to quote Detective Inspector Grim from forgotten mid 90s Brit sitcom The Thin Blue Line.
The title track, Underperformer, is up next and there is no let up especially in the vocal department, it’s a wonder Victor can muster up a word after such a performance, channelling Barney Greenaway from Napalm Death. The music is suitably chaotic recalling vintage early Converge, it also doesn’t stick around for long, ending at just over two and a half minutes. Having reviewed the exhausting Retrocausality by Bismut, a shorter, snappier affair was certainly much appreciated.
this is simply good, honest killer hardcore. What more could you want?…
Choke is another slow burn quiet/loud affair that recalls the dynamics of Refused’s New Noise from the legendary The Shape Of Punk To Come album. We’re already halfway through the album and at over three and half minutes this track feels comparatively like an epic. The unpredictable time signatures and post-hardcore eccentricities tread a similar ground to Blood Brothers. Surprisingly the latter part of the track is downright doomy and gives you an opportunity to cool down a bit, especially if you’ve been getting into the full spirit of the album and moshing in your living room during this restrictive COVID-19 period.
There is a Jesus Lizard/Pissed Jeans spirit to Off, especially echoing the psychotic nihilism of the former, while the riff reminded me of that band’s Cold Water, albeit a faster version.
Voiceswhispersecretsandspeakonlytruths alternates beautifully between slower simmering atmospheric passages and full throated unrelenting hardcore, while Swim may almost be described as ‘catchy’. The grooves are thick on this one, it has a slight industrial tinge, think vintage Prong. Penultimate number Victims almost had me digging out my Will Haven records while final track Crutches opens up with a pretty tasty Slayer War Ensemble type riff before the inevitable hardcore beat down followed.
I’m a 41 year old man and had lost both interest and touch with the modern day hardcore scene, especially when the likes of Code Orange are being lauded as the second coming. I never thought the day would come again when I could get genuinely excited about the hardcore scene again, however along with Entry who I reviewed recently for The Shaman, it was heart-warming to see Eyes give the genre a much needed kick up the backside. No awful emo styled lyrics, boring breakdowns or producers named after Greek Gods (Zeus), this is simply good, honest killer hardcore. What more could you want?
Scribed by: Reza Mills