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Rusty Eye’s second album, following the trend of their previous live release, is yet another step up in quality for their catalog. ‘Stendhal Syndrome’, apart from the most basic structural level, is a completely different and completely improved beast when compared to their original 2000 LP, ‘Rust N’ Roll’. The motif is still the same: garage rock meets traditional metal with some prog elements, but the mixture is now steadier and better delivered than ever. It’s good to see a band moving up instead of down.
The material here is in the unique Rusty Eye style of rock/metal, but in a more developed and well written form. The delivery is overall much like that on ‘Live At The Joint MMVI’: much heavier and more abrasive than their debut album, with many of the overt rock leanings of that release excised entirely. The result is a unique style of heavy metal that doesn’t sound quite like anything else out there today. It’s somewhat intentionally awkward: the songs are all very different from each other, deliberately missing hooks or catchiness, and have an intentionally convoluted structure with many changes in riffs and rhythms, despite how this is rock influenced music. It is, as mentioned before, unusually abrasive at times: death growls are employed more frequently than ever, and the already inaccessible song structures are made even harsher for it.
The best material here is easily the title track, which is the most prog-oriented song that the band has done. Sprawling along at nine minutes, it never gets boring, and also removes all the rock influence, leaving you with pure, jazzy prog metal that’s better than many of the greats. In fact, when it’s not progging along, the band’s rock oriented stuff is better as well: much more aggressive and well written. The production is also the most professional that Rusty Eye has ever had: there’s none of the rehearsal room feel of ‘Rust N’ Roll’, and while it’s not stellar, it’s clearly a well done studio recording, making it a much more pleasing listen.
Rusty Eye is never going to be a typical band, nor are they going to ever be an eminently likable band. They’re too weird, too strangely structured, too into their own systems of songwriting. What they are is unique, talented, and completely unlike anything you’ve heard before. I suggest picking this album up and working backwards through their material if you’re into it, because this is their most solid material to date and I think it’ll only get better.
~ by noktorn on September 25, 2007.