Album Review: KinZie – Dead Eyes

Birmingham, Alabama, rockers KinZie may defy categorization with their debut album, Dead Eyes, but its typical punk catharsis is undeniable. Out July 19, Dead Eyes veers between genre labels with the same frenetic energy as its music, bouncing from garage rock to post-punk and back again as lead singer Philip Ori sings about loss and desolation.

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There is no predetermined sound on Dead Eyes. KinZie bounces from punk to garage to alternative rock throughout each of the tracks on the album, capping fast-paced guitar riffs with distorted bass solos and smooth (yet dry in a post-punk manner) vocals.

The record’s wide range of sounds also covers a similarly varied emotional span; its ten tracks cross an assortment of stages of grief, beginning with a dull numbness in the opener, “Heavy Head,” (“Forgetting my name/Again and again and again…”) and later moving into anger on “Brutus” with its screaming, hardcore-inspired vocals (“My morals were tested, my sanity on trial”) and a bland apathy and acceptance in the final track, “Oh Well.”

Regardless of the emotion conveyed, though, KinZie’s energy on the record is unmatched. From the percussive, post-punk guitar riff on “Heavy Head” to its final distorted rips, and from the cool, dark vocals to the punky drum beats on “Heart Torn Apart,” it is clear that the three musicians are enthusiastic about their craft. Even songs that feel primarily instrumental with sparse vocals are frenetic – “The Process” feels low and driving with a definite garage-rock influence.

“Catharsis,” however, is a highlight of the record: though Ori sings about the end of a relationship (“You’ll do much better without me”), there’s a sense of relief in the music. It’s less intense than the majority of the record and highlights well the band’s dual ability to create music that is both heavy and lighter, but the music still drives the pulse of the song, feeling less angry and more alternative rock with a bit of a swing.

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Photo by Darius Walker Photography.

By the end of the album, it’s clear that listeners should be exhausted, as if Dead Eyes has drained both musicians and fans alike of the grunge and darkness that weighs down loss. It creates a pleasantly clean feeling, and it’ll keep listeners coming back time and time again for both that feeling and the record’s high-quality punk music.

For more, stream the album’s first two singles (“Heavy Head” and “Heart Torn Apart”) and pre-order Dead Eyes ahead of its July 19 release via KinZie’s Bandcamp below.

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