It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since I was interviewing the supremely affable lads in what was then ‘Chickenhawk’, in the run up to the band’s first (and if memory serves me correctly, somewhat problematic) recorded release. During the intervening 6 years, lead singer/guitarist Paul Astick and guitarist Rob Stephens have tinkered with the line-up, changed their name to ‘Hawk Eyes’ and knocked out a couple of belting records, ‘Modern Bodies’ and ‘Ideas’, leaving them on the verge of breaking through to wider acclaim.
Hawk Eyes’ third album ‘Everything is Fine’ is available via Pledge and following the recruitment of new drummer John Mackenzie, the band continues in their quest to bring uncompromising yet accessible metal to the masses. On first listen, what becomes apparent very quickly is the quality of the song composition, the greater emphasis on vocals and top notch production, they’ve definitely stepped up a gear since their last effort, and that’s high praise indeed.
Curtain-raiser ‘The Trap’ commences with a slow haunting prelude before the toms kick in, adding to the overall sinister and menacing effect that carries through to next track ‘The Ambassador’. Crunching riffs and a surprisingly grungy middle eight make up an exhilarating ‘Die Trying’ and ‘Permission’ is another fine slice of speed metal.
We then get a shift in tone as the (perhaps too) short but perfectly formed ‘The Ballad of Michael McGlue’, cranks-up the melody quotient to dizzying heights and wouldn’t sound out of place on a good American college rock station as we leap straight into the more frenetic but equally enjoyable ‘More than a Million’, complete with a trademark fret board shredding solo from Mr Stephens. ‘Terribly Quelled’ provides the listener with yet another infectious groover, perhaps the ideal accompaniment for a car chase sequence in a Hollywood blockbuster with Paul growling ‘Happiness is a Risky Business’ throughout…..wise words indeed.
‘Night Music’ has you believing the fear factor is back again but then we get a whopping great chorus with echoes of grunge and if I’m not mistaken, there’s even a hint of Rush in there. ‘I Never Lose’ is quicker, choppier and more industrial but still easily stands up to scrutiny and there is no letting up with the pace as title track is up next, followed by penultimate ‘Enemies’ containing another hook-laden chorus as the frontman asks us ‘Why don’t you let your hair down?’ Er, isn’t that what we’ve been doing for the last eleven tracks Paul?
Nine of the twelve songs on offer here clock in at less than four minutes, only the closing number ‘TFF’ sees the quartet extend themselves in a 7 minute plus mini-epic. The sound is big, bold and beautiful, a startlingly good end to a humdinger of a record that has a fair chance of success on both sides of the pond.
Everything here is very fine indeed.
Words - Mike Price
Hawk Eyes official
Listen - 'Die Trying'