Shield Your Eyes - Theme From Kindness (Function)

Furious, chaotic, and misunderstood. Do you think you're able to handle Shield Your Eyes?

Released Nov 12th, 2010 via Function / By Rob Evans
Shield Your Eyes - Theme From Kindness (Function) In the build-up to the release of the London trio’s third album in three years, Shield Your Eyes have seemed to pick up many a tag as either one of an ever-emerging wave of ‘math rock’ bands, or are lumped in to the ill-defined ‘post-hardcore’ category. Neither is fair to the band, but then, in today’s musical climate, it’s probably not fair to label the band for what they really are, either. Hold on to your hats: Shield Your Eyes are a screamo band.

Don’t misunderstand; they’re not skinny-jean wearing fans of bad metalcore breakdowns that really shouldn’t have existed past 2005. We’re talking ‘real’ screamo, if you’re elitist enough to believe in such a thing. Shield Your Eyes, whether intentionally or not, have so much more in common with the furious yet melodic hardcore offshoots emerging on America’s East Coast in the mid to late 90s. Saetia, Orchid, all those guys, but mixed with a little of the spasmodic sound of Frodus or Q And Not U. Very few UK bands have adopted this style, especially in recent years (which may go some way to explaining some completely baffling negative reviews of Theme From Kindness lurking on the internet which seem to miss the point of the record entirely), and it’s certainly refreshing. In the way that, y’know, a circle pit or a bar fight is refreshing.

Theme From Kindness is, from the start, utterly chaotic. ‘I Took My Lead From You And Your Kindness’ sets the pace, if not the tone, of the rest of the record – it’s a jam, pure and simple, an enjoyably messy intro that features acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and no particular structure, rambling on for a minute or two before the album kicks off for real with the classic screamo-emulating ‘Pneulope’. Although a fair bit more structured than the album’s prologue, it, like all of the album’s songs, have a very loose feel, capturing the air of a band playing new songs live for the first time. Which, with the band writing and recording the album all in one go in one of the member’s living room, is exactly what this is, and it is unrestrained and exciting in a way that studio records can never really be.

The guitars are raw and crunchy, almost entirely concealing the bouncy melodies that are being played underneath, whilst the bass pounds along, weighty and threatening. The lyrics are near-inaudible thanks to the high, twisting scream, and everything jerks around with a jarring urgency (apart from on the sweet, delicately picked acoustic ‘Aves’). To condemn the album for being messy, dissonant and unpolished is to utterly miss the point – this is what makes the album great. It is packed with a natural chaos and fury that most other UK bands are currently struggling to even fake. There’s a good chance you won’t like it, but then, there’s also a good chance that that’s just cause you won’t be able to handle it.