Shield Your Eyes - Volume 4
While some may see them as mere Fugazi copy-cats, there is actually far more to the UK’s Shield Your Eyes than you might think. Sure, you can draw parallels between the at-times noisy and discordant racket which the trio produce and the Washington, DC post-hardcore kings, but as Version 4 so brilliantly shows during its heartfelt nine tracks, the band have a lot more to give than just that.
The blues influence that was hinted on during previous releases is given a chance to let loose and breathe, resulting in the detailed, weaving guitar-work and subtle percussive flourishes of opening track ‘Larkspur’. ‘Drill Your Heavy Heart’ is a beautifully brooding and gloomy piece of music, full of smoky bass lines and skipping melodies that are broken by urgent, almost manic vocals. The squalling guitar passage that comes towards the end of the track sounds at once technically satisfying and really quite emotive, jabbing at your ears with passionate angular riffing.
The band indulge their quieter, acoustic side on ‘Glad’, demonstrating that vocalist Stef doesn’t always need to shout, his fragile voice lending itself to a more story-telling vibe on the track. Two major highlights of the album come not long after this, with ‘You Merit High Hopes’ bursting into life as drums clatter about behind simple yet effective chords. ‘Until I Find A Natural Way’ has perhaps one of the most addictive melodies of the entire album, its juddering melancholy instantly working its way into your brain before making way for sparse inflections.
The end of Version 4 is heralded by the screeching repetitions and ebbing rhythms of ‘BRNO’ and the working-mans blues of closing track ‘Schutze Deiner Augen’, showing again how they aren’t afraid to back all that noise up with a little heart and soul. Shield Your Eyes are the unsung heroes of British rock; sincere, exciting and with the songs and work ethic to back it up.