Eye Flys 2024
Photo: Mark Diehl / Thrill Jockey

Eye Flys Highlight Their Melvins’ Influences on New LP

Sludge metal band Eye Flys take the low-down ‘n’ dirty, down-tuned sludge of the Melvins and heat weld it to massive, 21st-century post-hardcore riffs.

Eye Flys
Eye Flys
Thrill Jockey
26 January 2024

“Release the pressure in my head!” bellows Jake Smith on Eye Flys‘ riotous opener “Trepanation Nation”. Trepanation, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is the archaic practice of drilling a hole into the skull to release demons or unclean spirits. With its Raymond Pettibon-like album cover depicting a gaunt figure in black-and-white, apart from the blood that’s oozed from the gaping hole in their forehead, it seems safe to say the running theme is central to the album’s thesis. The Pettibon-esque cover art offers a hint as to why that may be, as well, nodding to the disturbing murder/suicide on the cover of Black Flag‘s Family Man. Surely it’s better to drill a hole into your head is better than going off like a pipe bomb, taking out everyone in the vicinity in the process?

In the case of Eye Flys, the power drill is sheer, unadulterated noise. Even their name offers a hint at what they’re after, taking their moniker from the Melvins on 2000’s Gluey Porch Treatments. Essentially, Eye Flys are taking the low-down ‘n’ dirty, down-tuned sludge of the Melvins, heat welding it to massive, 21st-century post-hardcore riffs, and adding some late 1980s Amphetamine Reptile to the mix.

Fans of heavy music should be slightly giddy at the idea of the Melvins, Halo of Flies, or the Jesus Lizard backed by a cast-iron rhythm section from someone like the Body or Full of Hell, who used to share a member with Eye Flys. The fusion works even better than it sounds. The Melvins/AmRep influence helps keep the overly earnest preachiness of a lot of modern post-hardcore at bay. Impeccable production and strong songwriting help tame the old-school sludge at the same time, never becoming as murky or meandering as their 1980s counterparts.

What you’re left with is 25 minutes of sheer, unbridled heavy metal fun that also sounds like sticking your head into the caverns of Tartarus, getting high on black mold and sulfur as you listen to the cries of the damned. “Sleep Forever” is the most fun you’ll ever have thinking about being buried at sea, with its hammerfall riffing and plate glass shards of guitar feedback. “Tuck & Roll” is like a kaleidoscope of irregular guitar figures and bad decisions, with the odd moment of proggy perfection to remind you this band’s really damn good. “What’s That Behind Your Ear?” is Smashing Pumpkins doused in concrete and then set on fire. “Banarchy Zoo” puts the fun in funeral doom. 

“Draining Pus” could be Eye Flys‘s secondary mission statement, though, with its blood-curdling battle cry, “Rip the bandage! Watch the pus drain!” It’s an eloquent, if nauseating, explanation for metal’s allure. Sometimes, you just have to get things out. Sometimes, you just have to look, even if you don’t like what you say. You need to have your Colonel Kurtz moment, wrestling with the horrors of the world, if you have any hope of doing anything about them. Yet again, Thrill Jockey prove themselves an indispensable source of thoughtful, intriguing, unique metal that’s still unbelievably brutal.

RATING 7 / 10