Sound — 9
For Eyes Set To Kill's latest album Broken Frames, producer Andrew Wade apparently pushed the band out of their usual comfort zone. Given the fact that the Phoenix band already was working with a new setup following the departure of former screamer/guitarist/keyboardist Brandon Anderson, it's always iffy how things might work out when you also add a new producer into the mix. But lo and behold, the new record Broken Frames does indeed seem like a more cohesive and in many ways more melodic offering than the band's past releases. The screaming-singing combo is still very much a key element to Eyes Set To Kill's sound, with the opening track "All You Ever Knew" proving to be one of the best uses of this style. Kicking off with an almost computer-like guitar line, the track is driven by screamed verses (now completed by Justin "Cisko" Denson) that transition into big, melodic choruses. In past songs the band has included excessive and unnecessary screams at certain points, but "All You Ever Knew" uses each of the vocal styles in logical sections. "The Listening" tends to be a bit all over the place, but the chorus is so memorable that the spastic arrangement is acceptable. The focal point once again is clean vocalist/guitarist Alexia Rodriguez, who now sings an octave higher. Her vocals are without a doubt the highlight of Broken Frames, with songs like "Two Letter Sins" conveying a soulful touch. The band deserves credit for not being afraid to let Rodriguez sing with a clean guitar for the sake of the song in "Ryan" and "Ticking Bombs," two tracks that set the screaming aside. Those songs are two of the best selections on the CD, primarily because they emphasize the band's ability to write killer melodies. That's not to say that lead guitarist Greg Kerwin's work doesn't make an impression elsewhere, however. Kerwin won't necessarily churn out the typical lead riffs, but his unusual, cyclical approach to lead work enhances the more aggressive tunes tenfold.
Lyrics — 8
Broken Frames' lyrical content is driven by emotions through and through, and Rodriguez passionate-yet-angelic delivery works perfectly for the musical arrangements. There's nothing too out of the ordinary, but the band's key audience should be able to appreciate the themes. Whether it's overcoming obstacles and "breaking away from the situation" in "Inside The Eye" or playing off of the Twilight craze in "Escape" ("We'll fight off the darkness and pray for an escape"), Eyes Set To Kill's lyrics have a hip quality that will be appreciated by its fan base.
Overall Impression — 9
Melodically Eyes Set To Kill is at the top of its game, and one could argue that it's a result of new producer Andrew Wade and a new for lack of a better word screamer, Justin Denson. Kerwin's approach to the guitar is novel and doesn't stick to the usual riff-solo format, and that in itself makes for a refreshing change. It is, however, Alexia Rodriguez's amazing range and emotional delivery that steal the show in the end. The record finishes with what is essentially a ballad, "Let Me In," but allowing Rodriguez's vocals to take the forefront at the very end does make a lasting impression.