Danish hardcore quintet EYES releases its first album ‘Underperformer’ through Indisciplinarian on September 25th 2020, a little over two years since the band’s self titled debut EP saw the light of day. The album’s ten songs are produced by Tobias Munk Tønder (Église, Drukner), mastered by Jacob Bredahl (Lifesick, I Am Bones) – who also contributes guest vocals on the record – and Jon Gotlev/No Heroes has created the notable artwork.
EYES is made up by five young veterans from the Danish metal and hardcore scene, and ‘Underperformer’ reflects a combo, that does not worry one bit about what fans, scene or people in general might think. One senses an artistic kinship with bands such as Daughters, Pissed Jeans and Converge – all bands who started out with a particular sound and have changed and developed their musical vision significantly; something EYES aims for as well – and succeeds in.
EYES formed in 2017, and after a hefty initial time as a band with a hyped debut 2018 EP and a series of explosive shows in Denmark and Europe, the urge to redirect themselves arose, as new songs began to take shape. The band quickly decided to make a shift from the debut’s “blackened” expression towards a more punk rocking and experimental sound with focus on grooves and hooks – a less “brutal”, more minimalistic aesthetic and an underplayed expression in both auditive, lyrical and visual aspects.
This has resulted in ‘Underperformer’ and its ten songs showcasing a unique talent for injecting new life into hardcore with a disregardful (mis)use of the genres many strains and traits through a focused, original songwriting. The aggression is nonetheless present indeed, but always in interplay with challenging and dynamic riffs and arrangements, which relentlessly prevail in capturing, puzzling and entertaining the listener. This intransigent approach finds its strainless way into the band’s lyrics, strongly inspired by Jack Kerouac’s ‘stream of consciousness’ and Charles Bukowski’s straight forward, honest and nihilistic literary form.
In its essence, ‘Underperformer’ is a narrative about becoming an adult and having a hard time adjusting to the role it implies. About feeling discontent with one self and where one is in life; Feeling like you’re always busy and have your hands full, but never actually accomplish anything – feeling like an ‘Underperformer’. This sentiment is highly dependent on the eyes of the beholder though. People’s success or failure are always the most obvious to behold and mirror one self in – but who the hell knows how the other one feels about oneself. Despite this gnawing theme of personality, ‘Underperformer’ still holds a considerable amount of hope and a good portion of ironical distance, which also conveys the often ridiculous and pointless in everyone’s ongoing state of self consciousness and self criticism.
The stylized artwork of ‘Underperformer’ picks up the record’s thematic thread from a more general perspective. It is inspired by interior design catalogues – the perfect image of adulthood, in this case breached by an absurd and unsettling element. What is the man in the photo doing, and what is he looking for? The demand for perfection must necessarily be smashed by the imperfect human and its search for itself, as also a given musical scene and its rules and manners need a kick up the ass now and then from a band like EYES in order to move forward. In the case of ‘Underperformer’, this world’s massive amount of demands and expectations have spawned a pissed off, genre bending hardcore record that takes aim and shoot holes in the boxes, in which we stuff ourselves and each other, at all times, at all places, again and again.