It’s really too bad when a bad band has one really talented member.
Such is the case with Eyes Set to Kill, a band firmly rooted in the Underoath mold of five years ago. The fact is, the market for this kind of music his dried up substantially in the past few years, and only those bands with genuine talent and songwriting ability are still able to stake a claim. The talent is there, but unfortunately for four of the band's five members, it’s largely in the vocal cords of singer Alexia Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has an absolutely gorgeous voice, a voice that carries many of the album’s 12 songs further than they have any business being carried. There’s just not much else going on; save for some solid riffing, every track feels just a bit too familiar to the last.
In the 45 minutes this album plays for, there’s only one song that sticks out: “Young Blood Spills Tonight” separates itself by playing to the band’s strength -- Rodriguez. Sounding almost angelic over a simple acoustic strum pattern, she’s got a deep and captivating beauty to her voice. A pure, striking beauty that’s interrupted by the shrill screams of bandmate Brandon Anderson. At that point, the song reverts back to the same sing/scream mold that occupies every corner of the album. The dynamic that was stale to begin with is treading on even thinner ice now, and the breakdowns later in the song do nothing to lead the album to more stable ground.
The rest of the record continues that deterioration. It’s so systematically boring that only flashes of Rodriguez’s voice bring reprieve. In the face of ongoing boredom, she is the one continual bright spot. “Only Holding On” couples those clean vocals with some distorted riffing, but Rodriguez seems stifled by the arrangement. At several points, her voice seems poised to soar, but a scream from Anderson will interrupt the momentum completely.
Let me be clear: This is by no means an awful record.
It is, though, a record stifled by creative lapses. Alexia Rodriguez has a voice as pure and gorgeous as one could ask for in this type of music. She’s never given the opportunity to take a song on her shoulders, though, to make it her own. Too often she’s cut off by a riff or a scream, killing the momentum she had tried to build up, and in this kind of music momentum often makes all the difference.