No Spill Blood – an Irish underground supergroup of sorts, comprising Hands Up Who Wants To Die’s Matt Hedigan (bass, vocals), multimedia artist Ror Conaty (drums) and Magic Pockets’ Ruadhan O’Meara (synth) – made their genre defying debut in 2015 with Heavy Electricity. A unique prospect, there was no six-string shredding or chugging riffage to be found, instead building a foreboding sense of doom and dread via hypnotic rhythms and layered glacial synth patches.
Follow-up album Eye Of Night sees a shift in presentation. Where before Hedigan’s thick, modulated bass and shrieks lead the fray, here it takes a backseat to allow space for O’Meara’s synths to grow and sprawl. Take ‘Ad Unguem’ for example, which eases the listener in with oscillating, fuzzy octaves before building to a heavy, staccato groove before sci-fi theme style flickers and icy soundscapes envelope the listen.
Eye Of Night is unashamedly lead by its synths, which provide plenty of kaleidoscopic textures from the initial spurts on ‘Cradle Scythe’ to the celestial cascade that closes the album out on ‘Dead Satellite’. O’Meara’s work here not only showcases his prowess in crafting rich, diverse ambiences, but also his keen sense of timing, with his use of drones and stabs on tracks like ‘Ad Unguem’ and ‘Ossein’ building tension against the album’s relentless rhythms. It is all at once technically mindblowing and emotionally arresting.
As rich and layered as it is, Eye Of Night is heavy. Hedigan’s presence, though in a background role, is constant, coming to a fore on the galloping title-track and briefly leading the charge on ‘Ekur’, while Conaty’s blast-beat is what drives ‘Anvil Crawler’ and offers performances on ‘Ad Unguem’ and on the aforementioned midpoint combo of ‘Eye Of Night’ and ‘Ekur’ that would make John Stanier blush.
Ambient, throbbing and totally singular, Eye Of Night captures a band passionately carving its niche. While not yet fully formed, it makes for an altogether unique listening experience, oozing with sonic innovations and unfamiliar textures.