Reign of the Unblinking Eye, the debut full-length from British groovers The Bendal Interlude, couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. Between the stress of watching (and partaking in) the complete clusterfuck that is the American Presidential election where, as a general whole, the candidates proceed to make asses out of themselves, as well as the normal day-to-day stress of the day job-commute-taking care of myself-poor sleeping patterns Circle o’ Life, there comes a time when I just want to shut off my brain, kick Facebook in the junk, grab a beer, and groove my ass off to some heavy tunes after the hassles of voting and watching people belittle each other for their educated (or uneducated) decisions. Reign of the Unblinking Eye is a great soundtrack to cure you of your election/day-to-day blues, and even if you don’t suffer from those, you’ll be shaking your money-maker regardless.
And The Bendal Institute wastes little time in leveling the listener. After a loop of a woman saying, “I go to work, I punch a clock, I do the same thing day in and day out,” “Buckfast for Breakfast” opens up with a monster of a riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Cathedral record. Now, picture Cathedral doing away with the disco groove, and replacing Lee Dorrian with the acid-throated roar of Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates). Incredibly, this amalgamation of disparate styles works, as Nat Gavin does a damn good job, not so much singing or screaming the lyrics as puking them. All the while, guitarist Stu Taylor gets his ethereal groove on to great effect. Just from the lead track, I can tell this album is going to be a fun ride.
And that fun ride continues to be heavy and enjoyable throughout the album’s 46-minute run time. “Eframs Hands” leads off with a tar-thick bassline from Tommy Lloyd while Taylor gets his Iommi thing happening, complete with some impressive solos. Drummer Dave Archer also lays down a sick drum groove here, complete with the album’s only double-bass flourish. Completely unexpected, but impressive. “Losing Things” comes the closest to Black Sabbath, with an unmistakable Iommi riff, before utterly smothering everything in elephantine leads, but even then, The Bendal Interlude puts their own spin on the classic stoner sound that Ozzy and company perfected decades ago. Album standout “Pint of Bodies” starts off sounding like d-beaten crust punk until halfway in, where the song takes on a major Southern rock feel, complete with a swaggering acoustic guitar and bass fade-out.
The sound is just as uncompromising. The guitars and bass are thick and chewy with plenty of beefy bottom-end. The drums sound incredible, especially since the cymbals don’t sound overly shiny, which is tough to do with an album this heavy. My only complaint would be the sheer scope of this album. What I mean is that, taken in smaller doses, Reign of the Unblinking Eye is an enjoyable romp. Listening to it as a whole, though, can feel a bit repetitive towards the end. Again, this is such a minor thing to address, as the album is incredibly fun from start to finish.
And that’s the thing. Fun. There needs to be more of that, and The Bendal Interlude brought that big time. Reign of the Unseeing Eye should be in your library if you’re into all things heavy, groovy, and fun. So grab a beer, prop your feet up, and forget the world for about 46 minutes. You deserve it.