Death Eyes (Route 44)
The music scene in San Diego has long fostered a culture of collaboration. Since the late '80s and early '90s, the underground music family tree has been knotted and gnarled, with some of the most prominent musicians in town holding positions in countless bands. To this day, it's uncommon to find a San Diego musician who plays in only one band. Maybe the community is just that tight-knit, or maybe the hunger to create runs particularly deep, but the collaborative spirit never seems to wane.
A band like Death Eyes wouldn't exist if not for that collaborative spirit. Last year, as two local punk bands—Rats Eyes and Death Crisis—were reaching their end, members of each band came together to form a new entity from the ashes: Death Eyes. More than just a continuation of each band's noisy hardcore assault, Death Eyes is a concentration of each group's strengths, distilled to their most potent.
The group's self-titled debut album—adorned by a demonic cartoon image of Pope Benedict—captures the group's chaotic, menacing punk in 13 short bursts, the vast majority of which never make it past the two-minute mark. And they don't offer much warning before launching right into a throat-ripping, full-frontal bombardment. First track "Sigue Tus Suenos" is 39 seconds of uncompromising, high-speed hardcore punk, with vocalist Alberto Jurado screaming a series of phrases in Spanish. Come in unprepared for the band's visceral, violent sounds, and you might not know what hit you.
Most of the album is songs like "Sigue Tus Suenos," coming at the listener with a reckless abandon, and ending before the opportunity arises to take stock of the damage. But when they stretch out and slow down a little, their intensity gives way to some even more interesting ideas. "Wasted Prayers" is a brooding and dissonant post-hardcore number that only occasionally delves into screeches and screams. "Halfway to Sainthood" rides a groove so accessible, you can almost call it catchy. And the six-minute "Amor Reptilio" chugs at a sludge-metal pace.
There's so much noise and menace on Death Eyes' debut that it takes a couple listens to fully absorb it. But there's something comforting in knowing San Diego musicians can create something this intense when they work together.