Rusty Eye – Saca El Cobre – (9/10)
by: Jonathan Smith
Rusty Eye has never had a problem showing people exactly who they are. In fact, it’s quite difficult to get more honest and in your face than what this band of ruggedly independent thinkers tends to put forth in both the studio and the live venue. However, many who would approach their work may have some issue understanding exactly where they are coming from, and this flaw has proven to be their greatest charm. For most, progressive metal simply means exploring territory already hit in the 70s and giving it a heavier edge. With this Southern California outfit, progressive means drawing from just about every well possible, both inside and outside the metal umbrella, and presenting it in the most unique and bizarre way possible. In keeping with this, the surreal image of a decapitated rabbit’s head on a plate giving a would be listener the evil eye is a fitting visual.
Given the impressive array of accomplishments already in this band’s back catalog, and the continual habit of bucking the trend at each turn, it would seem that few side-roads remain to be traveled. Alas, Saca El Cobre presents such a road less traveled, marrying seven non-metal cover songs to Rusty Eye’s unconventional blend of metal, entirely in Spanish no less. Further upping the ante is a stellar engineering and mixing job courtesy of Bill Metoyer, whose work with Slayer, Helstar and Trouble (among countless others) speaks for itself. The result of this union is an album that sounds quite polished and professional compared to the raw yet incredibly vital character of where this band was a few years prior, with a particular eye to effects, nuance, and greater strength among all the sounds mixed together, though Baron Murtland’s guitar work is the primary beneficiary of this studio upgrade, with Miss Randall’s lightning fast foot work coming a close second.
As with previous releases, randomness and asymmetrical preciseness proves to be this band’s friend, as the assortment of bands represented cross a wide spectrum of rock eras. Arguably the closest of these songs in their original versions to what Rusty Eye does is the lead off “Cara De Pizza” by La Cuca, which was already a fairly avant-garde affair that married a hard rocking polka sound with a heap of vocal twists to a outlandish set of visuals when experienced in the music video medium. Mr. Rust and company do a stellar job in one-upping the original with a host of additional twists, most of them coming from the aforementioned front man as he manages to hit just about every extreme vocal style under the sun from David Vincent’s signature deep barks to an authentic old school hardcore yell right out of the Discharge playbook. The feel of the song ends up shifting from a bouncy polka feel to a galloping, NWOBHM feel with a lot of shifts in feel. Long story short, this is pure fodder for just about anyone who is in love with the mixed clean and dirty vocal extravaganzas that were heavily commonplace in the mid 2000s.
As things unfold, it becomes pretty clear that in addition to pioneering a auspiciously unique sound, that Rusty Eye has little trouble taking the music of others and landing in similar territory for an entire album. The distribution of lead vocal duties and the resulting mixture of timbre possibilities between Mr. Rust and Miss Randall come out to be about equal to what was heard 5 years ago on Possessor, though with an more aggressive and technical flair out of all in congress. Charming head bangers with a gritty yet serene vocal display out of Miss Randall can be heard on “Perdi Mi Ojo De Venado” and “Mama”, whereas Mr. Rust’s death barks regularly chime-in for a rather unconventional take on the “beauty and the beast” duet style that was all the rage with Gothic and death/doom outfits in the late 90s. But the pinnacle of this fiendishly beautiful marriage of extreme and angelic occurs on an early 90s pop/rock anthem “El Diablo” that has been morphed into this band’s multifaceted version of a speed/thrash song.
At the end of the day, Rusty Eye has definitely brought out an impressive handful of copper, and though caked in rust still manages to gleam brilliantly. Their previous LP outing has a slight edge in terms of sheer scope of songwriting and memorable hooks, but this may prove to be the ideal starting place for newcomers to this band as it presents a familiar quality of sound given the pair of hands running the sound board. Granted, this band’s version of accessibility may prove to yet again fly over the heads of many who are simply looking for a conventional song, but it is a welcome change and not an unnecessarily jarring one either. It’s a bit bittersweet given that it closes out the era of Miss Randall’s time in the fold, but amid the ebb and flow of time the only constant is change, and the same will surely hold true for Rusty Eye’s future wherever it may lead.