Eye of Nix’s mesmerizing sound, inventive approach to metal on full display with debut ‘Moros’

Photo by Michael Ray Sheets

Photo by Michael Ray Sheets

I’m going on this tangent again, but finding new fresh acts in the metal world whose sound makes you sit up and pay attention is rare. Really rare. It’s the spoils of having so damn many bands from which to choose and about a hundred million records that land in writers’ inbox each year that makes people like me feel this way. When special ones come along, it’s a joyous occasion.

As you may have guessed, we are in the company of one of those today. Seattle’s Eye of Nix certainly have a lot about them that sets them apart from much of the metal world. For one, they have a drama and excitement to them that lives in their music. This isn’t a group that’s here to blow you over with brutality. And that’s fine because we have plenty of groups out there trying to do just that. This group instead works to create interesting songs, weave together parts that’ll keep surprising you, and in front of them, they have a pretty great weapon that makes them even more special. That would be vocalist Joy Von Spain, whose operatic abilities grab you instantly and force you to pay attention. She has amazing pipes, no doubt, but she also knows how to use them. She doesn’t overpower the music, as many singers with abilities such as her have a tendency to do, and she’s a really unique, very powerful presence in front of this impressive band.

eye_of_nix_12in_pptemplate_3Eye of Nix formed three years ago, combining aforementioned Von Spain along with guitarist Nicholas Martinez, bassist Gerald Hansen, drummer Justin Straw, and noise artist Masaaki Masao. The band put out a four-track demo while also taking on tours and strengthening their live sound. They released their debut full-length “Moros” earlier this year, following that with an extensive Western U.S. tour and a video clip for “Elysium Elusive” that was made alongside filmmaker Michael Ray Sheets and butoh performer Vanesa Skantze. It’s been a pretty full year for this band, and now “Moros” is getting re-released with two bonus songs added, giving people who missed out the first time around a chance to catch up. What you’ll find is something not easily described, as the band mixes doom, noise, prog, and Von Spain’s amazing singing that injects Siouxsie Sioux/Jarboe/Kate Bush-style theatrics into the music. It’s a really cool element, though it should be pointed out when Von Spain needs to get destructive, she can belt out ferocious growls and shrieks with the best of them.

“Elysium Elusive” opens the collection, with darkness sprawling, Von Spain’s voice swelling, and the band taking on a calculated pace, as they slowly overpower you. The cut eventually starts to blister, with the operatic singing climbing over top and leading the way through the darkness. The song keeps progressing, building layer upon layer, until it all bleeds out into the night. “We Perish” starts with quiet playing, as Von Spain takes on the role of storyteller (or so it seems), as the track slowly devolves. Heavy growls erupt, as the track gets thornier and the noise elements get nastier and more aggressive. Toward the back end, the doors blow off, the band starts pummeling, and her voice rips into wild, harsh wails that leave a ton of bruising. “Veil” gets off to an eerie start, as tricky guitars enter the scene, and the track takes on a post-metal feel. Growls signal the arrival of dark forces, while the music gets vicious and sludgy, mauling right up to the unexpected calm. Birds chirp and all seems serene, but the music starts to buzz again, and while it has a dreamy essence, you can tell that not all’s right in the universe. “Turned to Ash” has jangly guitar work, a punchy tempo, and a nice infusion of moodiness. As it rolls along, it takes on heavier qualities, with bursts of power, Von Spain’s enrapturing singing, and a close that’s catchy and furious.

“Shroud” has a much proggier bend, which is a nice change of pace, though Von Spain goes for blood here as her she belts out growls and shrieks that will terrify you. From there, the song gets more unhinged and deadly, with the vocals leaving welts, but then the track suddenly trickles into beauty. It’s a track that shows both their light and dark sides. “Optimo Vero” begins with chants before the guitars start prodding, and the whole thing takes on a ceremonial ambiance. The band then starts to strike hard, with the vocals coming out like pained wails, and the tempo of the track beginning to drub you. Von Spain goes from horrifying screams to abrasive growls, showing the might of her voice, while the band strikes over and over, thrashing and mashing, with everything sizzling out of control. “Blood in Fire” is the first of two bonus tracks, with Von Spain’s delivery leaning toward jazzy while the band slinks along with her. The track slowly begins to corrode, with the singing turning to growls, and the band slipping into experimental weirdness before they round back to swinging again, ending the track in a wonderfully bewildering way. “Rome Burned” caps the album, and it’s arguably the angriest track on the record. Amid clips about protesting authority and corrupted power, complete with the recitation of the SLA line, “Death to the fascist insect that preys on the life of the people,” the fires really get moving. The band settles into a nice, furious groove, as Von Spain lets her voice rip, riots break out in the background, and the playing pays off the emotion and unrest lingering within this track. This is one hell of an ending.

Eye of Nix slowly are making their mark, and hopefully “Moros” getting a boost of new life will help them jar awake more people. This is an inventive, mesmerizing band that sounds like no other, and they’re lucky to have a singer who is in the upper echelon when it comes to discussing some of metal’s new voices. The universe is the limit here, and hearing this band morph and change in the future is going to be pretty damn interesting.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/EYEOFNIX

To buy the album, go here: http://www.beliefmowercult.bigcartel.com/

Or here: http://eyeofnix.bandcamp.com/album/moros