The band Ex Eye, created by saxophonist savant Colin Stetson, (who has worked in the past with acclaimed artists such as indie-sensation Arcade Fire and the infamous Tom Waits, just to name a couple)- has decided to grace the world of metal with an experimental gem. With every listen the eponymous album Ex Eye creeps in a new fusion of metal and jazz that crystallizes in my head, subsequently causing a smile to emerge on my face upon the album’s completion. Accompanying multi-reedist Stetson is guitarist Toby Summerfield, synth master Shahzad Ismaily, and drummer Greg Fox.
Kicking off the debut album is “Xenolith,” beginning with fiery percussion from Fox, and an immediate submersion into the metal-jazz world – and trust me folks, it’s a beautiful world.
Following this is my favorite track on Ex Eye, “Opposition/Perihelion.”
In this song, the listener accompanies the saxophone notes as they melt over a doomy metal backdrop, creating a truly unique atmosphere for metal music. “Opposition/Perihelion” fades out slowly in a building-static approach until an abrupt stop. Then silence. An evil laugh. Flip the record.
“Anaitis Hymnal” has drenched synths, fast-guitar playing and some of the best drumming on Ex Eye. It is a slow burner, building in intensity until it feels like the drums are beating the life out of you, followed by a dip back into the dreary landscape this album paints so well.
The album closer, “Form Constant” is the brightest track on Ex Eye, with possibly some of the best saxophone work to ever grace my ears.
It is not in an exuberant manner in the likes of former E-Street band member Clarence Clemons, nor is it the typical breathy jazz fashion, instead it is an in-your-face, relentless saxophone bellowing that would go greatly in a woodwind colored prog rock album. The song escalates as it progresses, proving to be an excellent tumultuous album closer for the solid experimental metal-jazz album.
Ex Eye may at times be repetitive and occasionally long-winded, yet this debut album from Ex Eye is a treasure to be found in the metal world and deserves a listen.