Given the choice, I’ll take a band that’s ambitious and energetic over a band that’s aloof, cool and understated. I like a good frontman. I like a band that can really play. I like it when a band is trying to do something challenging and fun and unique.
Portland’s Five of the Eyes, a band that is absolutely ambitious and energetic, has nothing aloof, cool or understated about them. This is direct, exciting, meant-to-be-heard live music, equal parts funk, metal and jam band. It’s defiantly unhip music, and yet draws from such a enormous grab bag of influences that there’s undoubtedly something within the band’s second EP, “Hierophantasm,” that just about anyone will find to love.
Case in point: “Hell Hotel,” track three on the new album. In the song’s four and a half minutes, it manages to be a funk song, an homage to both Rush and to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a bouncy jam band crowd pleaser, a Mike Patton-style freakout and a forgotten Jeff Buckley song. And yet, amid this wild stylistic range, it doesn’t feel completely incoherent. Ambitious, am I right? And here, it pays off.
Five of the Eyes, comprised of brothers Tim and Thomas Meehan (guitar and bass, respectively), guitarist Ned Rich, drummer Peter Griffith and singer Darrell Foster, has stumbled across some sort of magical combination of bandmates that brings together these diverse influences in a highly pleasing way. It doesn’t hurt that all five members of the band are very good musicians — they play the crap out of every song here, and, miraculously, the EP is self-produced, a risky gamble that actually plays out in this band’s favor, as “Hierophantasm” sounds live and heavy and professional. Foster’s vocals, while front and center, don’t overshadow the rest of the band, which I imagine would be easy to have happen, as Foster, a born frontman, has one of those natural rock voices that sounds as good in falsetto as it does his full-throated mid-range. In fact, my biggest takeaway from this album is that I really have to get to a live show from this band. The songs on “Hierophantasm” just scream for it.
Five of the Eyes will play with Long Time and the Jon King Band on Saturday, April 2 at Portland House of Music and Events. “Hierophantasm” is on Spotify and iTunes.