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Through a more distorted lens. - 55%

hells_unicorn, December 3rd, 2019
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Paradoxx Music

Eyes Of Shiva could be best described as the odd man out in the Brazilian power metal scene. They had all of the right elements to ride the coattails of Angra without becoming an outright clone, and offered up a fairly impressive debut effort in 2004 that showcased the versatility of what could be dubbed the Sao Paulo power metal sound while avoiding some of the excesses that made some of the style's entries a tad inaccessible to the rank and file trustee of Euro power. Unfortunately they've largely been relegated to the dust bin of latter day power metal history, perhaps occasionally mistaken for one of their better known contemporaries, but otherwise forgotten to the world as the close of the 2010s looms. Then again, if the less inspired sophomore effort that this outfit trotted out via Paradoxx Music (which ended up closing down not long after this album was released) was an indication of potential things to come, this band was flirting with an eventual loss of direction comparable to what happened to the American thrash scene in the mid-1990s.

The best way to sum up what the rather awkwardly titled Deep is in relation to its more apt predecessor, it would be an extremely dark and distorted reflection. It contains all of the same basic elements from virtuoso guitar and bass showmanship, speedy anthems coupled with more rhythmically diverse mid-paced anthems and a sense of melody that emphasizes memorable hooks as much as it does technical wizardry. However, the overall sound paradigm has shifted to more of a deep, groove metal sound that is oddly similar to what Nevermore was trotting out a few years earlier when Andy Sneap was in the engineer's chair. There is a general aura of cold, mechanistic dryness that cuts against the otherwise naturalistic sound implicit in this band's formula, almost akin to a patch of majestic Brazilian Rosewood trees that are almost entirely obscured by a surrounding, run-down factory district of some future dystopian city-state. Along with the unnecessarily compressed guitars and loud, dry drum production is a more throaty vocal out of Andre Ferrari that puts an otherwise masterful power metal front man completely out of his element.

Interestingly enough, the approach taken on this album is fairly similar to what Almah's eponymous debut would sound like when it was trotted out later in the year, though sadly it isn't executed as well and focuses far more on the dark groove/thrash elements. Forsaking any kind of lofty introductory material, "Blowing Off Steam" kicks the album off on a decidedly abrupt and brazen note, featuring a set of obnoxiously heavy and down-tuned riffs before Ferrari comes in shouting like a slightly less haggard and out of tune version of Warrel Dane. When combined with an industrial-tinged keyboard theme and a generally slower feel, barring the ironically melodic chorus, this song struggles to be power metal in any sense other than maybe the groovy niche established by Symphorce at around the same time. Truth be told, much of the heavier content on here functions as a less redundant version of said band's material, one where a clumsy, fist-pumping anthem like "Kamisama" is largely saved by a guest vocal slot by Andre Matos, while faster material like "Profane Minds" and "Another Side" could be mistaken for modern thrash metal if not for the harmonic scheme and cleaner vocals.

This is an album that comes off as being more stylistically schizophrenic rather than outright terrible, and many of the songs on here are fairly decent despite the wild discrepancy in orientation between the remnant classical and tribal folk elements and this almost late 90s Sepultura approach to production. It's unclear whether Eyes Of Shiva was trying to step further out of the shadow of Angra by adopting elements of the darker progressive/groove sound that was becoming popular at the time thanks to the efforts of Tad Morose and latter day Steel Attack, or if they were just experimenting independently and just somehow fell into a similar sound, but regardless the experiment definitely went awry. This is more an exercise in talent being misdirected rather than talent being absent, and sadly it's the final testament of a band that could well have made a name for themselves had they stuck to more familiar territory and persevered a few more years. It is a small consolation that Andre Ferrari and drummer Ricardo Longhi would re-emerge a little less than a decade later in Mr. Ego, but one can't help but ask what might have been had things rolled out differently.