AS EYES BURN CLEAN – Terminal Lovers (Public Guilt)
Cleveland, Ohio has always been a metropolitan area where an off-kilter pulse is alive and well in both sports and music. Some sports events that have taken place over the years, which have cemented its reputation for the surreal, include the Cleveland Free Times mascot Freebie and the Cleveland Indians Mascot Slider brawling; mayflies (or commonly called “Canadian Soldiers”) flying off Lake Erie to attack NY Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain in the 2007 MLB American League Divisional Series; and, in a strange display of nature once again, seagulls assisting the Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals this past June.
Correlating to these off the wall occurrences, the city has also held a long tradition of psych-punk bands, such as Mirrors and Pere Ubu, that feel equally comfortable with hallucinatory ethos of Krautrock – Don Von Vliet in addition to the drug punk of the Stooges and the Metal Machine Music. All of these great bands / artists leave the listener scratching their heads, because of the musician’s refusal to follow the rules, as they build their own construct. Terminal Lovers are comfortable with this idea. The newest endeavor of the group As Eyes Burn Clean is a culmination of the band’s exercise in following their instinctual nature.
The opening track “Press the Bank” introduces the listener to a haze of white noise. The buzzing feedback, drone of distortion and bass – cymbal percussion are further enhanced by some killer guitar interplay between Dave Cintron and Chris Smith. The track beautifully segues into “Ion Gate” as a serene mood is established with a mellow guitar line and Middle Eastern percussion, supplied by both Brent Gammil and Bob Zieger. Above the groove, both Citron and Smith set the controls for the heart of the sun. Once the hypnotic aspect of the band is pushed aside, a hard rock riff is soon introduced by the two guitarists.
The band plays it straight on “Shadow Driver” which is a more of a straightforward rocker. Upon closer inspection, the song reveals the benefits of having two percussionists, as there is a propulsive effect at work. The track “Steve Ashby” offers a heady combination of great bass work (by Jamie Walters), delicate guitar lines, and a looping accompaniment of feedback.
The final three tracks exemplify the brilliance of Terminal Lovers. “Sacred and the Man” exhumes the ashes of Furnier, Buxton and Bruce’s exquisite body of work. Midway during the song, the song stops and a drum fill is introduced. The song abruptly increases the volume for guitar riffage, as a drum – bass pummeling is set and the band flexes their excessive muscle. The band then rides out on a rhythmic groove, smacking into wall of distortion, which serves as the introduction of “Truth Between Errors”. An instrumental piece, the band exudes a psychedelic sheen, as the song flows into the final track “Sun, Light Rings”. “Sun, Light Rings”, complete with that classic recipe of light – heavy duality, hushed vocals and a bombastic playing, ends on the quiet whisper of pedal effects.
I want to let you in on a dirty little secret, Terminal Lovers have quietly established themselves as a great band. The band’s prior release "Drama Pit and Loan" (Shifty Records, 2003), a great record in its own right, merely hinted at what was to expect from this mid-western unit. Now, on "As Eyes Burn Clean", all of the pieces come together, and ultimately the listener is greatly rewarded by hearing the band’s unique brand of monumental hard rock - psych dunt. – Arthur S
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