The genre of symphonic metal often brings to mind specific ideas as to what the band will look or sound like – usually some Gothic temptress lamenting the dashed dreams of yesterday in wailing soprano. New Jersey band Eye of Eternity is providing a different take on the symphonic metal genre. Formed in 2015, the group is young but gaining momentum and exposure, opening for industrial black metal titans Anaal Nathrakh in 2015 and headlining a show hosted by Don Jamieson of VH1 earlier this month. The group’s debut EP, simply titled Prelude, was released physically on March 11th and digitally on March 15th.
“Dominion, corruption, enchanted by this thirst for blood” is a sampling of the lyrics of the opening track, “Heaven Shall Fall.” In contrast to that dark sampling, most of the album’s lyrics seem to deal predominantly with redemption and overcoming adversity. Vocalist Travis Morgan delivers his lines in an operatic croon most reminiscent of Roy Khan of Kamelot (well, formerly of Kamelot), and though the combination of his vocals and the omnipresent synthesizers can threaten to become overwhelmingly cheesy, there’s a sense of theatricality and playfulness to Morgan’s delivery that keeps things from veering into kitsch.
Speaking of the synthesizers, they are indeed omnipresent, being the central instrument around which each track was built. Kevin Larsson is credited not as a synth player but as a composer, a term which seems apropos. Usually in symphonic metal the synths are used as a background flourish, but on Prelude they take center stage; as such, the guitars of Jesse Agins are used more for texture and rhythm than as a dominant musical force. Still, the combination works quite well, and shows a degree of sophistication that one likely wouldn’t expect from a band this young. Bassist Rob Colonello and drummer Casa Basa provide a solid rhythm section, despite the fact that Colonello’s bass is somewhat buried in the mix (an issue shared by metal albums of all stripes).
Eye of Eternity cites, among others, the works of Nobuo Uematsu and Hans Zimmer as influences, and the influence from film and game soundtracks on the band’s overall sound is quite apparent, leading to some unique standout moments. “Oblivion,” in particular, sounds like something from Lord of the Rings, with Morgan mixing orc-like chants into his vocal delivery and Basa providing some very cool tribal flourishes to her drum work. And album closer “Elysium,” despite being a demo, is nevertheless quite well done, pairing the violin work of guest musician Benjamin Karas with the most dynamic vocal delivery on the EP.
Prelude is ultimately a very solid release that’s as likely to appeal to fans of Two Steps from Hell as it is fans of Nightwish or Epica. The keen compositional work and talented musicianship make a fine pairing. If you’re a fan of symphonic metal, power metal, or just want a sense of theatricality and adventure in your metal music, Eye of Eternity is a band that should be on your radar.