Review: Rated Eye ‘Rated Eye’

Wax Donut are fast becoming my favourite label and following what has been some excellent releases, label owner Moray brings yet another, this time by Rated Eye, a Pittsburgh quartet consisting of John Roman (Microwaves/ex-Night Vapor) on drums, Albert Hall on vocals (ex-Night Vapor), Anthony Ambroso on guitar and Dan Tomko on bass.

Rated Eye 'Rated Eye' Artwork
Rated Eye ‘Rated Eye’ Artwork

The origins of Rated Eye can be traced to a chance encounter between Roman and Ambroso and we learn from vocalist Hall in the promotional notes that themes on the record range from ‘projecting what the Earth will be like for the next billion years, to the catharsis of writing about living with body dysmorphia, to the conflict between man and nature’. Taken in combination with Jeff Schreckengost‘s somewhat politically charged artwork, I’m intrigued and hopeful it lives up to expectations.

Burn Barrel recalls Laughing Hyenas brand of punk blues and noise-rock with hate filled vocals ala frontman John Brannon. The track alternates between this and ‘90s post-hardcore which could be found on the Quarterstick Records label via underrated bands such as Kepone. Laden with dynamics it’s the perfect opener. Mia Demon II starts with some truly extraordinary guitar soloing before launching into the kind of bluesy stoner rock that Fatso Jetson practically pioneered in the mid-1990s, as well as nods to Clutch. Packed full of grooves, if this doesn’t get your ass shaking you must be clinically dead.

Pig’s Eye is a little different, math-rock and proggy elements gel brilliantly with tastefully delivered punk blues. There also seems to be a Poison Idea hardcore punk influence too, in attitude more than anything. There’s so much going on here, yet it feels cohesive and as with the rest of the album so far, the motivation to keep listening is incredibly high. Magnificent.

a testament to their talents as musicians…

Boring Billion again displays the kind of unpredictable musical dexterity you might associate with No Means No and Firehose but is balanced with plenty of melody as well as glorious stoner blues jams. There’s even a little proto-metal thrown in with a riff that may be associated with sadly overlooked bands such as Bang. The Crying Man takes us down more of an avant-garde route and has eccentricity in spades, mirroring, as it does, the best efforts by legends such as Captain Beefheart. However, unlike the good captain, this doesn’t make it impenetrable to the lay listener, instead, with a little Pere Ubu added to the mix, you have the makings of something truly special.

Economy Boro has a riff that reminds me of the intro to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, before it ventures into jazz territory and sonic detours to Don Caballero and a less hipster Battles. It’s dazzling how many genres and styles are incorporated into a single track, but this must be a testament to their talents as musicians. After the more experimental nature of the past couple of numbers, we are brought back to earth with Miss Bliss. More noise-rock orientated with definite The Jesus Lizard vibes and slight tinges of Creedence Clearwater Revival, curious and yet highly effective.

If you hadn’t guessed already, blues is a common denominator on Rated Eye, and this is no different when it comes to the concluding track Early Supper. Surgery and Mule are bands who are never far from my stereo, even though both are sadly long gone. It is thanks to Rated Eye their spirit lives on, ending the album in the same fantastic fashion as it started.

If I was being cloyingly complimentary about this release it was for good reason, it fucking rules. Make sure you check it out ASAP.

Label: Wax Donut Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills