You know that feeling you get when you’ve been longing for something, so passionately, for such a length of time, that a fear creeps into your conscious that it couldn’t possibly match your expectations? It’s a feeling that’s sadly all too few and far between in appearances, but it’s one that is to cherished. It’s fair to say that we here at Heavy Planet have been waiting with baited breath for Memphis Tennessee’s The Heavy Eyes’ third record to drop, the worry was whether it would meet expectations, but it didn’t, it exceeded it!
2011’s self-titled record laid the foundations for The Heavy Eyes on the heavy blues scene, adding elements of stoner rock into a hazy, riff loaded album which hit us like a freight train. The follow up, 2012’s Maera was an improvement still on the bands already solid foundations, keeping the blues at the forefront of their playing. So where were they to go next? Three years later and the band have found a heavier button than “loud” and used it with a fuzz pedal to make gigantic noises. He Dreams of Lions is a record that drips fuzzy blues riffs through every gap they can find around Tripp Shumake’s greater defined and vibrant vocals, while still being as laid back as the floor.
Opening track ‘Shadow Shaker’ lays the foundations for the album, with pounding drums and heavy, hypnotic guitar riffs, and a driving song structure, galloping the listener forward into a blues future that the band are writing themselves. The song qualifies every genre bracket the band are currently tearing open, showing the direction blues, fuzz, and hard rock could well take. By the time second track ‘Saint’ kicks in to immediate flow, the record has your entire attention as you thrash your head and mosh with yourself over the top of the frenetic riffs and heavy-ass percussion section.
The band have a fantastic ability to write a song, with hooks that’ll make you wet and want to hear all day long (seriously, the riffs are killer). Each song is a well thought-out construction: ‘Old Satlilo Road’ is a layered fuzz fest encouraging you to blast along, ‘He Dreams of Lions’ is a surf rock cum fuzzed stoner pop song, and it’s great to see the band giving it everything they’ve got. ‘Smoke Signals’ shows off the excitement that comes with following the band in all genre formats, and it’s a song which is going to win over many people unfamiliar with the sound.
By the time the record closes with the (yes you’ve guessed it)fuzz heavy blues of the slightly downtuned 'Modern Shells', you realise that you’ve been on a journey with the band, over the course of three albums, a sound which has become louder and more defined for a band who don’t just write great songs, but execute them musically to perfection, and it has led us to He Dreams of Lions, a record which is almost perfect with what it intends to do; rock your balls off! This is a superb album which needs to be in your collection alongside every other quality stoner/fuzz/blues record you cherish.