Filter’s Crazy Eyes (2016): Raw energy and honesty for the soundtrack of a screwed-up world

The very first review I read of Filter’s 2016 studio album Crazy Eyes, came from Raul Stanciu and summarised the album by stating, “Driven by anger, frustration and deceit, this is Richard biting society’s neck.” I couldn’t agree more.

I pledged for Crazy Eyes on PledgeMusic and received a couple of tracks while the album was in production. Mother E was one of the songs off the new album that Filter shared with the world before the official album release. My thought with the first listen was, ‘Holy macaroni! This new music is brachial, issue-laden, and more punch-in-your-face than I would have imagined.’ Especially given that its predecessor, The Sun Comes Out Tonight, is more atmospheric and (pop-)melody-driven than other Filter albums, I thought that was the route the band would be go this time around as well. But I was wrong. And that’s a good thing.

Song-by-song through Crazy Eyes

The opener Mother E is a great song to get the listener in the mood for harder tones and aggressive moods. Track 2, Nothing In My Hands, as well as Pride Flag, combine repeating hard riffs and shouting vocals with harmonious melodies. For this listener, a perfect marriage. No need to elaborate on the messages of these three opening songs other than saying that the lyrics are deep and important and you should care and listen to them. The world is in a bad place right now and Richard Patrick is holding a mirror in our faces.

The City of Blinding Riots, track 4, is characterised by more electronic sounds. Despite the monotonous and repetitive licks, the song radiates a certain welcomed smoothness before entering the next track.

The brachial Take Me To Heaven is most probably my favourite song on Crazy Eyes. The main riff of the song is crunchy to the max and underlined by a pumping up-tempo beat. The cut-time part in the chorus, combined with the hook line and its harmony vocals, opens up the song and brings it up to new levels. Gotta love the dynamics towards the end of the song with a minimalistic breakdown and build-up to the end. One of Filter’s best songs in their entire catalogue.

Welcome To The Suck (Destiny Not Luck) is a melodramatic song characterised by apocalyptic sounds and End-of-days emptiness. A dramatic orchestration and Richard’s one-of-a-kind dynamic pain-screams add to the heartbreaking mood of the song.

Head of Fire builds upon the previous song. The chorus, however, brings the listener back to a typical – for lack of better words – Filter song: melodic, energetic, and full of passionate screaming. Can see this one working very well in big arenas.

The double-time tempo in Tremors gives the song a level of energy that leads this listener into sitting up straight again and tapping the fast-beat with his foot. Really love the breakdown in the middle of the song. Also, the fact that the distorted guitars are mixed underneath the song and leave a lot of space for the atmosphere to unfold through the melody and the subtle energy makes Tremors another favourite of mine.

Kid Blue From The Short Bus, Drunk Bunk brings us back to good old industrial metal with extra oomph. Pumping up-tempo beat, clear distorted guitars and screaming melodies. Can we ask for more? The same is true for track 10, Your Bullets.

The lyric-less Under The Tongue, the longest song on Crazy Eyes with 6 minutes and 11 seconds, is arguably the most dynamic piece on the album. The song lives from repetitive parts that go through different arrangements and tone expeditions, but stay true to the colourful mood of the song.

The album closes with an acoustic revisit of Head of Fire, hence, the name (Can’t She See) Head Of Fire, Part 2. A good way to close this phenomenal album.

IMHO

I have liked Filter since I first heard Hey Man, Nice Shot in the movie Demon Knight. For whatever reason, the band fell off my radar for a while until a friend left their 2013 masterpiece The Sun Comes Out Tonight on my desk in my office and I rediscovered my love for the band. I was expecting Filter to follow that musical direction and was at first surprised by the raw energy and unfiltered rage radiating from Crazy Eyes. Nevertheless, spending more time listening to the songs and understanding what Filter is trying to tell us, made the album spin on repeat in my player. It might not be considered the greatest Filter album in their catalogue, because it might not contain that one hit-single in a musical context. However, seen from a holistic perspective, Crazy Eyes can be considered the soundtrack of 2016 for those people who understand that we are living in a screwed-up world. The raw energy and passion of the album carries the honest and genuine messages of the songs on an industrial metal platter in good ol’ Filter fashion. Definitely one of my favourite albums this year!

What others write about Crazy Eyes:

“Though harder to digest on a first listen, these songs gradually get under your skin, revealing one of Filter’s greatest LPs to date.” – Raul Stanciu, sputnikmusic.com

“‘Crazy Eyes’ is by far the most experimental and daring effort of this year yet. Although this record does suffer from a similar sound and approach to the singing, there is just enough emotion and mystery in it to keep in interesting. This is an album that takes multiple listens to appreciate the soundscapes, but it is worth the time and effort.” – Shreyas Gune, metalwani.com

“Patrick tries to cover too much ground on one record, creating the feeling of a collection of songs instead of the feeling of an album. Had Crazy Eyes featured a unity of purpose, the great songs on the record could have been extended to making a great album.” – Haydon Benfield, renownedforsound.com

“To stress just how good Crazy Eyes is: this isn’t just the best record Filter have made, or the far-and-away frontrunner for best album of the year. There may be a few years left, but I feel very confident saying Crazy Eyes is going to be one of the 5 best albums of the decade. Do not sleep on this one.” – Randy Shatkowski, antiheromagazine.com

“Through fiery textures and solid song writing, Crazy Eyes is an album equally as innovative as it is nostalgic of the band’s classic material and could very well be the record that Filter needs to return to the spotlight as the refined hard rock veterans that they are.” – Gerrod Harris, theheavypress.com

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer