Leeds-based Hawk Eyes have been going since 2005. You may remember them as ‘Chickenhawk’, who played the Holy Roar-curated Hardcore Stage at Offset Festival in 2010, as well as having toured with The Computers and Alexisonfire. The press release that came with the band’s sophomore album ‘Ideas’ tells me that the name change came about because “a good doctor told singer Paul that his traumatic vocal stylings were doing unspeakable damage to his throat.”
Opener ‘Witch Hunt’ wastes no time in getting stuck into its sludgey Botch-covering-Melvins guitar riff that goes straight into a half-shouted-half-sung tour de force complete with the appearance of a blastbeat(!!!). The rest of the songs on the album go through several twists and turns before their conclusion. Halfway through second track ‘Skyspinners’ the song devolves into a broken-down melodic section before going back into its refrain of “Shut! Up! Shut up, up!”
The rest of the album continues to impress. The twisted hyperswing noise rock of ‘Yes Have Some’ manages to cram in a passage of pure doom metal and a dash of mentalist 8-bit black metal carnival noise into it’s all-too-short three minutes and twenty-two seconds. This is followed by the stop-start math-punk of ‘Headstrung’ that finishes off with a moment of Don Caballero guitar twinkling interspersed shards of Dillinger Escape Plan histronics.
The second half of the album brings us some slightly longer songs, but unfortunately it doesn’t bring us any particularly new elements to the table. That’s not to say that the songs aren’t strong, because they are, it’s just that they don’t have that same unpredictable streak that the first bunch of songs had. ‘Milk Hog’ is an example of this, resorting to Dillinger-style spazzy noise for a hair over two minutes and doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. Fortunately the other songs make up for it even if they aren’t quite up to scratch as the first half of the album.
Overall, the album is a shining gem in the sea of bad, forced ‘experimental’ noisy British rock music. The first half is super strong and shows some real creativity on the part of the band. However, the second half suffers from slightly more repetitive songwriting and recycling of old tricks. The good far outweighs the band though and Hawk Eyes are definitely one of the strongest bands on the British underground music scene.