Eyes of Fire - _Ashes to Embers_
(Century Media, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (
Turn your mind back a few odd years and you might recall the name Mindrot -- a promising five piece hailing from Los Angeles whose debut record, _Dawning_, was released in 1995 amidst a somewhat pre-emptive amount of hoopla. Soon afterward the ballyhooing died down however, and by the time the arguably superior _Soul_ surfaced in 1998, Mindrot had all but vanished from the general metallic conscience. Still, it's fair to assume that there are more than a few metalheads that mourn their passing to this day, and if you happen to fall into that category, you'll be happy to learn that Mindrot founders Dan Kaufman and Matt Fisher have returned to the fray with Eyes of Fire. While their debut EP _Disintegrate_ passed me by for some reason, _Ashes to Ember_ picks up where Mindrot left off, with Kaufman and Fisher still very much ruing the day, musically speaking. The heightened level of maturity in their songwriting is almost baffling though, and from the word go, _Ashes to Ember_ is a far more emotionally intense, focused and well-rounded effort than anything they ever conceived under the Mindrot banner. Eyes of Fire sees Kaufman and Fisher (along with new collaborators Ben Smith, John Haddad and Cary Petersen) further explore the dissonant soundscapes of Neurosis, the nervous energy of latter-day Anathema and the cold, gothic overtures of Fields of the Nephilim, while still keeping things suitably heavy. Interestingly, _Ashes to Embers_ works best as an album consumed in its entirety, as short abstract pieces flow into the record's more epic centrepieces -- of which "One More" stands out as perhaps the band at their most morosely effective. Cameron Webb's (Godsmack, Danzig) production is adequate, although one listen should make it clear that Eyes of Fire would benefit greatly from a more layered and dense sound. Ultimately, Eyes of Fire are still in relative infancy, and to release a debut of such poignancy and power puts them right up there with metal's elite.
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