Rusty Eye – Rust N’ Roll

This isn’t bad if you look at it for what it is: a rock album with large heavy metal influences. I can’t say this is a full-fledged metal album; it’s more garage rock with some Iron Maiden CDs stocked away. It creates music with a weird sort of inner conflict, where the band is torn between rock minimalism and heavy metal complexity. You get these big heavy metal riffs and song structures jammed into this tiny rock-based space, and it creates a very interesting, if not entirely effective, sound.

The music is very minimalistic and sounds like it could have been recorded on a 4-track: clear, but very flat, almost rehearsal room-like, especially in the wide, sustaining drum sound. The riffs are mostly metal-based, but the guitar tone is pure rock, which makes for an interesting dichotomy. Most of the song structures are rather bluesy and rocky in nature, though, clashing somewhat with the metallized riffs and sounding like Black Sabbath were Americans listening to The Ramones in 1995. A strong cord of bass presence winds its way throughout the songs, in an atypically large musical presence, at least when compared to most metal today. The vocals are also strange: shouted rock singing with the occasional oi! group chant, and even an isolated instance of death growling on ‘Return Of The Scarecrow’. The production saps some strength from the already somewhat timid performance, though: they don’t sound very powerful, but more unsure and quieter than they should be. The production in general is the main culprit of the music’s flaws here: this is the sound of metal and rock not meshing, but grinding fiercely into each other, both entities too big for this little album.

It creates interesting music, though. Sort of how Calling Hour’s music is a battle between warm and cold in the form of thrash and industrial, Rusty Eye is a battle between rock and metal on this album, creating the exact opposite of an artist like Motörhead: very clean, somewhat erudite music that still reflects both genres in that same aspect, but with some level of the crudity that defines both genres in hand with the elegance. It’s interesting from an experimental perspective: I don’t think it works very well when it comes to making catchy music that I really want to listen to, but from a structural standpoint, I’ve never heard anything exactly like this. It’s probably more progressive than most supposed ‘prog metal’ bands typically are: at the very least, it’s going places that others don’t quite tread.

‘Rust N’ Roll’ is neither heavy metal nor rock and roll, nor is it a particularly traditional fusion of either. It’s that fusion turned inside out in a way that I can’t remember having heard before. Consider it the direct antonym of Bishop’s ‘Steel Gods’: instead of reconciling the styles and celebrating their similarities, Rusty Eye forces them together and decries their differences. Weird, and I can’t say a great deal of fun to listen to, but very interesting nonetheless.

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~ by noktorn on September 23, 2007.

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