REVIEW ROUND-UP: Bloodywood, Early Eyes, Schemata Theory, Daytime TV

A man kneeling inside a temple with a huge elephant standing behind him.



Bloodywood have been causing somewhat of a stir across the metal scene and it’s not too surprising why; there’s a powerful melding of Western metal with traditional Eastern music in their sound. This does appear to be a significant element of their rapidly growing popularity notably in the UK and US. The nu-metal riff style and energetic danceability of their heavy sound sees traditional instruments woven beautifully through the music. Gaddaar is a pretty epic start to the album diving straight into the signature aspects of their sound. The production quality is incredibly high, so many different tones and textures run through each track and yet everything is balanced perfectly. From the intense energy of the opening track to the ballad style of Zanjeero Se. Bloodywood have had somewhat of an unconventional start in their career, with a number of early YouTube cover videos going viral in 2018. The trio have identified their own unique sound and cultivated it beautifully in such a short space of time. Aaj is a fanstic example of Bloodywood’s genre mixing taken to the next level. It’s fast-paced, heavy and impactful, with folk instrumentation taking a stunning lead role. A soaring chorus, with a haunting vocal melody, introduces an ethereal quality. That’s all before even mentioning Aaj’s hard-hitting rap-metal parts. So much is taking place in this track alone, nevermind the whole album, and yet it doesn’t feel overdone or too busy. Everything is combined effortlessly, and it just works. This review barely scratches the surface of Rakshak but hopefully it gives an accurate impression of how impressive this record is. Bloodywood amalgamate the intensity of heavy metal, with bursts of fiery energy and intricately crafted melodies. • HR


For fans of: Project MishraM, The Hu, Vanaheim

‘Rakshak’ by Bloodywood is released on 18th February.

The band’s name and album title distorted in a wave

Early Eyes

Look Alive!

In a musical landscape desperately trying to settle down into a post-genre, post-pandemic rhythm, Early Eyes feel borne directly from the cultural zeitgeist. They’re nervy and anxious about the world, and translate it into fizzy, glittery concoctions of pop, indie and the wider nebulous alternative, in what could easily see them blossom into scene darlings before long. As hard as it is to put a finger on the specifics, Look Alive! has the feel of alt-pop for the TikTok generation, small-scale and precocious with a liability to go in whatever direction it pleases. Outside of that vacuum though, Early Eyes come across more as a band who know they can tap into a real cultural moment, and who spend their time constantly trying to show how much they know that. It’s where the fizzy production style comes from that lets colour still shine through on Paresthesia or Halloween 18, but keeps the supplementary bedroom-pop smallness to hand at all times. There’s a handful of moments here with gigantic pop-rock potential should they be given the opportunity to fully erupt—the completely effortless strut of Chemicals; the jumpy indie-rock of Revel Berry; the twiddly, shimmering quasi-emo of Dying Plant—but there’s often a distance or some gated sonic choice that stops that from happening. What’s more frustrating is that, even then, this is extremely rarely bad; yes, the blown-out, smothering breakdown on Chemicals could’ve done without ever being put to record, but for the most part, Early Eyes’ genre parlance is regularly smooth and well-balanced. There’s clearly a good instrumental knowledge put to work, in how to get the most from liquid guitar and key gloss and a well-rounded bass to facilitate an atmosphere that’s both readily inviting and aware of its own instability. That isn’t as beholden to the bedroom-pop frame of reference, but a similar uncertainty still permeates, and despite Jake Berglove not being the most impressive vocalist—he leans a lot into a shrunken mewl that, just on the basis of personal preference, isn’t that appealing—he sells a hazy, frustrated state of liminal existence rather well. Average it all out, and Look Alive! definitely has the legs it needs within its particular set, even if it could be a lot more. It’s hard to look past just how ripe Early Eyes are to break the current alternative wave open and really race to the fore, but that can all come in time. Clearly this is a band marching to its own beat, and an album like this will still serve them well enough. • LN


For fans of: Wallows, Peach Pit, I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME

‘Look Alive!’ by Early Eyes is released on 25th February on Epitaph Records.

An hourglass with a flower growing in it

Schemata Theory

Unity In Time

Looking at Schemata Theory’s profile, you get the impression that they’ve geared themselves up for tremendous things.There’s a lot of social messaging that defines them as a group, apparently already getting through to organisations like WikiLeaks and Anonymous which is a piece of copy so audacious that it’s hard to think of a band who wouldn’t kill for their name attached to it. That’s in hand with a sound that simultaneously wants a post-hardcore crunch but also the sweeping, arresting pull of prog, almost as if Enter Shikari haven’t cornered this exact niche for years with more colour, flair and individuality. Maybe it’s an unfair comparison, but a band with ambitions this lofty should be aiming for the highest possible rung, to which Unity In Time engages with by ending up as pedestrian as this sort of thing comes. Yes, the conceit of coming together and working to protect the Earth is undoubtedly solid at its core, but there’s rarely anything to it that define’s Schemata Theory’s specific approach of it. Instead, songs like Voices and New Vision decide to wheel out the same potted manifestos that have no means of sticking, and Vantage Point is just the umpteenth iteration of a collage of speech clips to serve as an interlude that’s supremely tired at this point. It just isn’t impactful in the way that Schemata Theory want it to be, even more so in the stunted rap breakdown of Mirrors and the spoken-word pieces of Pain Unknown, which are so awkwardly graceless and jammed in that it’s almost funny. Still, at least they’re memorable; that’s a luxury that most of Unity In Time doesn’t have, where the hooks are big but feel really underpowered, and the cold, clinical instrumental palette is nowhere near as cutting as they want it to be. It’s very rarely self-indulgent, which is a plus—even the seven-and-a-half-minute Mirrors doesn’t drag too badly—and when that’s brought into a song like Mind Eater that chooses to go heavier and more groove-oriented, it’s where the album is at its best. Those moments are disappointingly few and far between though, underscoring an album whose approach to extolling messages of change is so mechanical, as though efficiency in this case is tantamount to actual drive. There’s no doubt that Schemata Theory could do impressive things, especially given what they’ve already achieved, but this is far from being that and, at least as this stage, shows no distinct throughline to get there. • LN


For fans of: Thousand Thoughts, Exit Ten, Fightstar

‘Unity In Time’ by Schemata Theory is released on 25th February.

Daytime TV

Nothing’s On But Everyone’s Watching

Daytime TV seems an apt name for this band, because that medium represents the equivalent level in which they’re moving the musical needle. The truth isn’t as pointed as that sounds, mind; they come across as a mishmash of the Arctic Monkeys’ AM and Twin Atlantic’s Power most prominently, ergo the most consumable rock experience imaginable that sidelines innovation for how unashamedly it’s champing at the bit for arena stages. The thing is, three of the four members can also be found in Hunter & The Bear, who aren’t that stylistically dissimilar save for some buffed and rounded edges here, which makes you wonder what angle Daytime TV are coming at this from.This isn’t necessarily a terrible album, but there’s no creative mojo being channelled that feels unique enough to build a whole side-project around, and that makes an already stock indie-pop-rock template seem more so. That really sets in with the anti-technology lyrical slant, in itself a brick wall that’s been chipped at so many times with a negligible success rate of breaking through, but having it masquerade in broad, bright arena-rock language further dilutes a point that’s already practically water at this point. It’s not a major factor—given that, on albums like this, the writing seldom is—but it holds firmly how unremarkable Daytime TV’s projected momentum is. They’re capable of some really sticky hooks on Hush and Digital Light, but sorely lack any spark or identifiable verve that could push them to the level of an Arctic Monkeys or a Twin Atlantic. At the same time, this isn’t exactly a workmanlike trudge either, as Daytime TV at least sound enthused enough with what they’re doing to hold interest. The pseudo-Royal Blood riffage on Side Effects and We Can’t Be Friends is exactly what one would expect, as are the sharper inflections of pop appeal that colour a wide portion of the album, but it wouldn’t sound out of place coming from a Reading & Leeds or TRNSMT speaker system. It’s about as accessible as music like this gets, which comes with its own degree of backhandedness that, at least for now, Daytime TV seem as though they’ll just have to weather. At the end of the day, it just leaves open the question of how worth doing this whole endeavour is, especially when it could’ve easily be folded into their primary vehicle with the similar results. As it stands, that’s probably the most noteworthy thing here. • LN


For fans of: Arctic Monkeys, Twin Atlantic, Fatherson

‘Nothing’s On But Everyone’s Watching’ by Daytime TV is released on 25th February on Allotment Records.

Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)

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