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bWall of the Eyeless may not have yet released a full-length album, but that hasn't stopped them from earning an enthusiastic response from the metal community. They released a four song demo in 2011, and it was pretty quickly embraced by reviewers, who saw a ton of potential in the young duo. While I shared the popular optimism for Wall of the Eyeless after hearing the demo, I was admittedly less sold on it than others. The potential was there, sure, but it still felt like the band were in the early stages of developing something great. In that regard, Wimfolsfestta reaffirms many of the impressions I had over two years ago with the debut. The band's musicianship has improved considerably, and they seem to have drawn closer to unlocking the potential I know is buried just under the surface. Though clearly still in the demo stage, Wall of the Eyeless express promising ambition here, drawing in everything from doom to death, black and even traditional heavy metal into their progressive melange. In being so all-inclusive of subgenres however, Wall of the Eyeless lack a clearcut sense of identity and style. Like so many otherwise great bands when they're still in the demo stage, Wall of the Eyeless hints constantly at greatness, but lack the cohesion and distinctiveness to make the ambition work in their favour.
If anything has really noticeably evolved in Wall of the Eyeless' sound, it is their standard of performance. Wimfolsfestta features impressive performances both on the drums and guitars, and even the vocals sound stronger. Regardless which song we're talking about here, the thing that defines Wall of the Eyeless the most at this point is their tendency to hop constantly between genres and ideas. "Flicker", for example, gradually builds with the intentioned focus and gorgeous harmonies of traditional doom metal, jumping into a proggy section before unleashing a slice of death metal. Wall of the Eyeless are probably best described as a progressive death-doom hybrid, but the sound is constantly shifting between sub-genres. This emphasis on dynamic in their songwriting has been done before by other progressive metal acts, and while it does have the potential to work, in Wall of the Eyeless' case it feels like the result of indecisiveness; the band wants to explore a number of styles they like, but haven't yet figured out how to make it flow together.
There are quite a few solid riffs on Wimfolsfestta that get me excited to hear what the band will sound like on a full-length. Although their varied approach still works against them for the most part, the non-metal elements they've drawn in are a welcome addition to the band's sound. Opethian acoustics are handled reasonably well, and the demo's closer "Piercing Mist" picks up what distinctly sounds like post-punk. While I'm not sold on the way Wall of the Eyeless structure their music, the individual ideas are often very good. Although I imagine Wall of the Eyeless capitalizing on their doomy side in the future, they handle each subgenre with reasonable skill, with SL's guitarwork in particular possessing a strong ability to shift styles fluidly. Wimfolsfestta aims for a melancholic atmosphere reminiscent of something Swallow the Sun might conjure up, and while the songwriting lacks the focus to evoke any particularly strong feeling in me, there are points here where it feels like the band are really close to unlocking their sound, and drawing from the same emotional depths as their influences. Often close, but never quite there.
The production is functional, but has neither the crisp clarity of a hi-fi recording, or the organic warmth of analog to really benefit the music (a surprise, really, given that the mastering was guided by the master's touch of the legendary Jens Bogren). Although some of the moments on Wimfolsfestta sound beautifully executed, there's still a sense that Wall of the Eyeless are in the demo stage in terms of recording. The band has experienced numerous gains with regards to composition and performance when compared to Through Emptiness, but I'm left with the nagging feeling that what we're hearing is still a work in progress. When Wall of the Eyeless refine their craft to the point of releasing a full-length, I have high hopes that they'll make something excellent. As I thought with hearing the band's first demo, Wall of the Eyeless are in the primordial stages of greatness; they're not 'there' yet, but the ingredients are prepped and ready to go.
Originally published in Heathen Harvest Periodical: www.heathenharvest.org/wall-of-the-eyeless-wimfolsfestta