Jaded Eyes - Gods and Monsters (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Jaded Eyes

Gods and Monsters (2013)

Boss Tuneage Records

Sometimes there's nothing like wearing your influences on your sleeve(s) and this relatively new UK band certainly do that from the start. Taking their name from a Government Issue song (GI vocalist John Stabb has said he is honoured by it, for what it's worth) as well as, maybe coincidentally, having a track entitled "Crash," which was the final Government Issue studio album in 1988, Jaded Eyes crank out nine high-quality songs, most of which have elements that link back to the Washington, DC / Dischord Records sound of the 1980s, with the occasional nod toward fellow UK groups like HDQ and Revulsion.

Jaded Eyes remember when emotional music – for which Dischord is often credited with being a big part of back in the day – was known as "emo," and bands were really giving their all to convey feelings and connect with the audience, as opposed to coming across as whiny and basically unlistenable. As such, a number of the songs on this debut album can be called emotional, dealing with personal issues that are sometimes far from unique to any one member of the band; "Divorce" reflects on a far-from-harmonious marriage, ending with a plea of ‘show me where to sign.'

Musically, the band's dual-guitar approach works extremely well, adding depth and intricacy as opposed to two people just thrashing away, playing the same riffs and adding nothing to the output. The build-up of opener "Control" is a prime example of what might have been heard many years ago from the likes of Government Issue and Dag Nasty, bands with a punch who also weren't afraid to take tangents to change momentum or mood. This is not your more conventional hardcore, which races from start to finish and is gone in the blink of an eye, but something that evolves as each song progresses, displaying a desire to ensure that the listener is fully engaged and feels that he/she wants to know what happens next in a song, rather than knowing its course from the get-go.

The vocals are gritty and heartfelt, portraying a variety of feelings including anger and frustration (both displayed in particularly brief, yet strong terms on the epic "Thompson Park") at times through the album, and I find myself getting drawn into each track rather than just being a voyeur, with the lyrics occasionally resonating in a distinctly direct way (the aforementioned "Divorce" being a prime case in terms of my past). The rhythm section plays a key part in the structure of these songs too, allowing the timing changes to happen with ease and boosting the power inherent in the album. The end result is an effective look back over the shoulder to a time when the lyrics were as important, if not more so, than the actual music.

I know I've made numerous comparisons to an older sound, but Gods and Monsters stands up well in the present day punk/hardcore scene even if you have no knowledge of any of the references made. Jaded Eyes deliver much of what many of us want to hear in punk music: passion, heart, intensity and very good songs, all of which are put together in good measure here. Boss Tuneage has been renowned for releasing good records, but I'd put this up there as one of the best in the last ten years.