Following a promising but not quite fully formed debut in 2004's Ashes to Embers, Orange County, CA's Eyes of Fire swapped most of their lineup but wasted little time getting back into the studio and trying to come up with something better. For help, they hired producer Matt Bayles -- responsible for the success of Isis and Mastodon -- and few will argue that the resulting Prisons delivers a far more focused, lethal, and, one feels, self-satisfied image of Eyes of Fire's vision. Not that their sonic makeup has been drastically altered; the band still drinks from the Neurosis/Isis avant-alt metal fountain (sprung from the persistent contrast of gentle and melodious passages against dense bursts of crushing doom) while sticking with more concise song-lengths, à la Cave In. As such, they have a little less time to develop and set up their powerful climaxes, but at their best, album standouts like "It All Dies Today," "Dead to the World," and especially the quasi-single "Falling Apart," easily lock into simply massive dynamic thrusts that provoke from-the-hip, full-body flexing -- never mind head-banging. Frequent use of tribal percussion and varied vocal styles (ranging from baritone crooning to hellacious bellows) bring another special flavor to Eyes of Fire's personal formula, but some of their softer song-parts sound rather predictable (see "True Love," the intro and ending of "All Said and Done") and their chanted choruses do grow a little tiresome with unending repetition ("Blood (This Consumes You)," "Salvation"), they're just not that catchy. Overall, though, Prisons is a well-conceived and well-paced L.P.; not quite the stuff to redefine the genre, but showing enough improvement to make Eyes of Fire an entity to be reckoned with.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Track Listing - Disc 1