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Difficult to define, hard not to like - 73%

Napero, March 4th, 2010

Rusty Eye seems to have a fair amount of reviews on the Metal Archives, and a probably explanation for that is the polite and persuasive way they recruit people to write those reviews by sending out promo copies with more accuracy than saturation; the low-budget approach is a very effective way of getting exposure, and probably doesn't suit the lazier bands. However, in Rusty Eye's case, the DIY mentality is reflected in the band's music, and the chosen mode of promotion is perhaps a part of a well-considered package. It's easy to get the impression that this band is not aiming for superstardom, but rather seeking a niche between various genres on a much smaller scale.

While the label of "progressive metal" is perhaps not that far away from the stuff found on Possessor, if the definition of progressive is taken from the books on 70s progressive rock and applied on Rusty Eye's rocking, alternative and perhaps even mildly punkish metal, it certainly conveys the wrong idea about the music to the generation that has grown up thinking "progressive" means the same as "more or less a carbon copy of Dream Theater". No, the stuff here has a garage-y sound, a probably intentional DYI-ish production, and plenty of variance between the songs. And certain choices a band centered purely on being "metal" would never make, under any circumstances.

The songwriting has an almost annoyingly wide range, from rather pure metal tracks with sort of lackluster guitar sound, to songs with softish clean female vocals more to be expected on an album of an indie rock band, to almost textbook rock tracks, to sludge-drenched coarse grunting bolted onto a background that could have been assembled from the strips of taped left on the studio floor after recording sessions by a soft metal band and a semi-metallic punk band. And that is where the progression comes into play here: the band does not follow a pre-defined format, and frolicks all around the musical scenery, avoiding all but the widest and most liberal musical categorizations. The chosen guitar sounds are more from garage rock than from a rich prog metal band's equipment-centered finesse, but some of the riffs are definitely metal in their essence, while the drumming takes a wholly different and less aggressive approach. In short Rusty Eye makes music that mixes genres and defies their very essence, but adopts stylings from each one, more that actual musical formulas. Possessor contains music that is difficult to define, and manages to hop genres in its leisure. And still the construction holds together and sounds like itself throughout its length.

If the music is difficult to define, it also manages to be damn hard not to like. The unrestrained, unapologizing and unpolished attitude of the band is endearing, and even if some individual tracks sound irritating when they jump or sneak out of the speakers, they do not annoy in the way a sticky pop song does. No, they do not come back to haunt the listener in the wee hours, but leave shroudlike memories that somehow manage to associate that very irritation with an unexplained desire to hear it all again. And upon the new spin, the album once again both irritates and leaves a good taste in the mouth, like a cup of strong coffee with a chocolate bar with just a little bit too much chili flakes in it.

Punkish, endearing, kinda metallic, sort of not metal, alternative and indie, hopping fences between genres like a bunny on stimulants, sludgy, unrefined and unpolished, perhaps even with a girl-next-door attraction, and somehow home-made in a good way; all more or less abstract adjectives, but the best descriptions a confused mind can come up with. This music has the potential for extraordinary gigs on very small venues in front of audiences with no specific expectations, and it's not a far-fetched idea to assume that that might well have been the intention.

Possessor is an album almost impossible to define, very hard not to like, and definitely a piece that might find a more or less permanent slot in the glove compartment of the car, for occasional spins on the way to work. Because just as the tongue tends to unconsciously wander back to probe an infected tooth, the subconscious mind will sooner or later remind of the existence of this album. Not excellent, but certainly enjoyable and an original take on... on... ...this kind of music.