Named after a bird’s nest built in an inaccessible location, Eyrie, the debut EP from Chicago post-metal quartet Beak, is a majestic blend of styles and textures that deftly vaults between billowing atmospherics, polyrhythmic prog and face-melting noise, in no particular order. Clearly the band have lofty influences, including Neurosis, Tool and Isis, and like their inspirations the band address bleak and ruminative subjects like — as frontman Jon Slusher, describes on the band’s Web site — “the path of ruin, the crumbling of empires and the marching of time.”
Eyrie is music for brooding, not meditating; even when Beak are creating innocuous, drifting soundscapes, you get the impression they’re preparing for the next aggressive, torrent of destruction. For the first couple minutes, “Men at Arms” is a delicate and serene calm before the storm that abruptly morphs into a serrated mid-tempo chug bathed in howls of hatred. As the song builds, the band adds more layers of echoing noise until the song climaxes with overlapping vocal screams. Then it’s back to the delicate, acoustic noodling to begin the ebb-and-flow process anew. It’s a formula that’s repeats throughout the album, but it works, thanks to the additional sonic embellishments, such as the militaristic marching drums, jazzy chords and galactic samples of “Angry Mother of Bones” or the alternate tunings and fuzzy counter-melodies of “The Weight and Time.” If there’s any flaw with Eyrie it’s that — while the music constantly morphs, shifts and drifts, the vocals are always delivered in a ravaged scream. But hey, even Mastodon screamed exclusively for their first two releases. With the marching of a little time Beak could soon be perched on high alongside their heroes.