Release DetailsLABEL Earache
RELEASED ON 1/26/2009
Through My Dog's Eyes
posted on 4/2009 By:
Even if you’ve never owned a dog, you know the picture: Rover has spent a long day cooped up at home, dreaming of high octane cat chases and vast expanses of lush green fields, anticipating the liberating moment of his Lord and Master’s return. Then, just outside the door, the jingling of keys; the tumbling of the lock; the crackle of the door coming off the weather-seal; a brown leather foot crossing the plane and there He is!!! Overcome with joy, Rover bounds uncontrollably while turning circles and letting loose a frenzied barrage of ecstatic salutatory barks. When Master reaches for the leash and Rover is reminded of the arrangement, he sits obediently, the calm of his stature betrayed by a furiously wagging tail and a visible quiver radiating throughout his body.
It’s situations like the one above that often make dog owners wonder what it must be like to be a dog. Davide Tiso is a dog owner and he took this curiosity to heart, making it the subject of his band’s latest album, Through My Dog’s Eyes. Ephel Duath are well known for their quirky, jazzy, avant-garde take on heavy metal, so the idea of such a fun and interesting notion filtered through the band’s artfully oddball style is appealing. One of the first things listeners will notice, if they haven’t already availed themselves of information on the band’s recent overhaul (all but Tiso are new as of 2008) and reduction to four from five members, is that their take on metal this time is decidedly less quirky, jazzy, and avant-garde, and their artfully oddball style isn’t quite as odd as it once was.
The cold dissonance of detuned guitars still dominates the soundscape but there is a heavy dedication on this effort to the warmer country vibe of bendy, twangy tones and slide styles. The metrical flow remains angular but much less so, these songs more often calling to mind a bubbling meadowbrook than the whitewater rhythmic structure of albums past. Although Through My Dog’s Eyes focuses on atmosphere, it isn’t quite clear just what the atmosphere is supposed to evoke, as there’s not a lot of feeling generated here. It’s the sort of aural current that lacks distinguishable ebb and flow, allowing the music to fade into the background, letting gaps between tracks serve as the attention grabbers.
In all, this is a softer record and, although it isn’t quite comfortable, there are several elements at play here that are inviting, such as the contemplative melodic lead of “Guardian.” Not so inviting are the vocals, which are mostly a combination of clean and gruff pseudo-rap moderately reminiscent of Todd Smith (Dog Fashion Disco) in style and Mike Patton in delivery, though never as convincing as either. Several times in the course of the album’s nine tracks in thirty minutes, the vocals border on inert, save for their power to interrupt otherwise enjoyable moments. It is telling that the best track on Through My Dog’s Eyes is its last, “Bark Loud,” an instrumental.
Regarding the album’s concept, it seems to be mostly wrapped up in the lyrics, which maybe isn’t surprising, but is a little disappointing given the creative agility on display on previous records. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the songs themselves that illuminate for the listener our world through a dog’s eyes (for this last comment, I may be accused of just not “getting it,” to which I would counter that this is not my or any other listener’s fault). The lyrics are sometimes familiar and amusing to anybody who has, for example, taken an unruly canine friend for an ill-fated walk, as in “Promenade”: Ask yourself if your life/ Ever gives you a similar kind of joy/ As the thrill in this moment/ Just because I’m running away. As with most clever devices, though, once the sheen has worn away it’s difficult to remember what was so exciting about it the day it was new.
Oh shit. We forgot about Rover. He was about to get a walk, right? So, Master grabs the leash and Rover does his best to contain his enthusiasm and be a good dog because he knows the beautiful, exciting, wide open world that’s been promised and he can’t wait to take it all in. Out the front door they go. At the end of the walk Rover happily goes to make the turn toward the park and Yoink!, there’s no give in the leash. Looking back he sees Master standing there, staring back sternly as if to say, “That’s it. Do your business and let’s get back inside.” To which Rover replies quizzically, “But I thought… You said we were going to the… But this is just the front yard! Aw, man, I know all this. There’s nothing new and exciting here. Oh well, it feels better than being stuck inside so I guess I’ll make the best of it. Oh, jeez, there’s the damn cat. He sure is annoying. Man, this sucks.”
Sorry, Rover, ol’ buddy. I know just how you feel.
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