Almost two years ago, we listed Israel’s Ferium as Band of the Day. It’s with great pleasure that I get a chance to review their latest album, Behind the Black Eyes, almost two months before its release on April 21st. It’s the follow up to their debut Reflections which I found to be a damn strong first outing, so have they managed to overcome those “difficult second album” shakes?
A little about the album’s creation before I get onto the tracks. It’s an angry album, that’s for sure. The band are using their music as a means of channeling their aggression, and given whereabouts in the world they live there’s a lot of that to throw about. It’s also a concept album, which revolves around personal relationships from the protagonist’s point of view.
The opening song’s title would more suit the end of the album: “Aftermath”. It doesn’t come in with the immediate blast you’d be expecting, with more of a traditional metal build… and then the bass wave hits. Multiple harsh vocals laid over what sounds like an army of distorted guitars, bass and drums pummel. Within a minute you know you want to be listening to this with the bass up and on a decent set of speakers. This is a song that could open a live show and lay waste to the whole crowd… before they rouse themselves for a repeat performance.
“Power Is All That Matters” has more of a hook to it at the starts, but without lacking any of the heaviness. Despite this heaviness, the lyrics are surprisingly poetic describing the coming together of a couple in what seems like a very stable relationship. The music makes you want to think of destruction, but the words being sung tell a tale of the exact opposite. A curious combination.
It’s this lyrical theme that throws a twist into the album. Every track is as aggressive as the next, but the lyrics range from the heartwarming to the soul-shattering. Ferium take us on a journey through human relationships and many people won’t even realise, concentrating as they will on the pounding riffs. This is a hell of a shame! If you get the album, then make sure you read the lyrics sheet.
Back to the music, though, and this is a solid album in that respect. It’s a bit metalcore, but heavier and bassier than most with a death edge that really comes across in “A Journey We Had” and “We Fell Apart, We Fall Together”. Both feature a subtle orchestral undertone (the latter moreso) with the vocals also being a little more grunted than in other songs.
To really mix things up, there’s an atmospheric instrumental (“She Feels Like Home”) and a spoken word track (“Seven Years Of Seven Levels Of Hell”). The latter would be better placed at the end of the album rather than just after the halfway point. It would have made a nice, creepy fadeout. Having said that, one listen to the words and it obviously accompanies the preceding “She Feels Like Home”.
Behind the Black Eyes is definitely something special. It’s actually those two oddball tracks I just mentioned that really set it apart from its peers. You may not find yourself targeting them if you’re listening to the album in a random order, but taken as part of the whole they emphasise the concept nature of the album as a whole. BtBB is definitely stronger than the sum of its parts because of little touches like this.