For Fans Of
In the world of modern day heavy music there are bands that attempt to win over fans with their own unique sound, and there are groups who build upon the foundations already laid by acts taking the former approach. Guards of May are one of the latter, but there is nothing wrong with that. Their debut record ‘Future Eyes’ is a well-produced, well-written and dynamically varied record, which channels the sounds of home-grown sons Dead Letter Circus, Karnivool and The Butterfly Effect. However, it manages to avoid directly replicating these bands with each song holding its own ground, making for a pleasurable listen.
The Australian progressive flavour is distinguishable from the outset, with the TesseracT-eque ‘Annotata’ offering listeners the first full cut of the album. The sizeable vocal range of Richo Harvey is noticeable straight away, his voice ascending beautifully over the thundering guitars in the chorus and hitting dizzying heights in the songs climactic outro. ‘The Rest of Them’ continues to build on the heavy elements offered in the album opener, with a busy drum groove underlined by the heavy chugs of guitarists Damien Salomon and Keita Neralic. While at times the solo drum and vocal effect is strange, the final result is a heavy song which does not overpower the listener.
What really shines on ‘Future Eyes’ is the maturity of Guards of May as song writers. Album highlight ‘Beacons’ displays this, with its soft, ethereal grooves slowly building in tension, underlined by the pushing tones of bassist Jimmy Harden. The song swirls from a hooky chorus into a steadily building bridge, before slowly yet purposely building to a climactic finale, with Harvey’s continued, ‘You’re on your own// You’re on your own’ vocal melody allowing the song to ascend to an epic zenith. The album’s title track also shows a maturity not often shown by other heavy bands on their first outing, with the band allowing the song to slowly develop, utilising their vocal abilities to create a beautiful vocal texture beneath the slow, brooding instrumentation. The song then breaks into a balls to the wall breakdown, and while it wraps up abruptly, it takes listeners on a four-minute atmospheric and musical journey.
Despite the expeditions the band takes into slow anthemic territory, they never keep their influences far from them. ‘The Observer’ is an exciting song, with the busy shuffle of drummer Levi Russell contrasted by twiddly guitar leads and a thundering bass tone-very reminisant of Karnivool. However, Guards of May pull it off, the result being a solid slab of alternative metal, bound to get the fists pumping when they tour the album next month. ‘Numbers’, on the other hand, is a clear indication of the time they shared the stage with fellow Brisbane rockers Dead Letter Circus, with the driving, straight ahead rhythms and technically fiddly interludes evoking similar sounds found on their counterpart’s last release. However, this should not take away from what is an excellent song, and Guards of May add their own flavour of dynamic and melody, allowing the song to be identified as their own.
What counts is that ‘Future Eyes’ adds its own twists, showing that Guards of May have the foundations needed to begin carving out their own musical territory. But for now, the band sits back and allows the music to do all the talking.
‘Future Eyes’ is a diverse, mature debut by a relatively young band. Judging by the sounds heard here, Guards of May clearly intend to play with the big boys in the Australian prog scene, and this record will give a solid first impression to those whom it matters the most.
1. On and On
3. The Rest of Them
5. Future Eyes
7. The Observer
11. Of Kings