For those that don't know, Close Your Eyes is a five-piece band from Albeline, TX that came into the spotlight back in 2010 with their debut album, We Will Overcome, released through Victory Records. After their second album, Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts, vocalist Shane Raymond departed from the band. After a few months of searching, Close Your Eyes recruited new vocalist Sam "Ryder" Robinson to join them and record a new album titled Line in the Sand. This news received mixed reactions from their fan base and now it's nearly time for the moment of truth. Line in the Sand is also being released under Victory Records on October 29.
The first track, "Deus Ex Machina," is a relatively short intro track that gives you a small taste of what is ahead. "Deus Ex Machina" builds into the second track, "Burdened By Hope," and this track throws me back to the Close Your Eyes that I knew back in 2010. Although the new vocalist sounds entirely different – mostly due to his thick English accent – he tends follows the same vocal style of alternating between yelling and singing that Raymond had previously used. Throughout the album, many different vocal styles are utilized. In the first track alone, I counted two different types of "yelling," along with lots of singing and screaming. In fact, a lot of the tracks remind me of Lower Than Atlantis primarily (but not entirely) due to the vocals, genre and the accent.
Musically, this album is all over the place. Songs such as "Burdened By Hope" and "Line in the Sand" are post-hardcore; "Frame and Glass," "Kings of John Payne" and "Trends and Phrases" have an alternative influence; and "Glory" is a straightforward worship song. The guitars can go from heavy chugging in one song to melodic riffs in the next, such as the case between the eleventh track, "Skeleton," and the next song, "Trends and Phrases." There is even a well done guitar solo thrown into "Higher Than My Station." The same can be said for the drums as well. One minute they can carry a nice, energetic beat; then, suddenly, they are pounding my eardrums until they are ready to burst. Since there isn't a ton of emphasis placed onto a single aspect – or genre – on Line in the Sand, all of the guitar work and drumming is mediocre and nothing stands out.
The fifth track, "Frame and Glass," nearly does a complete 180 from the tracks before it because they were post-hardcore and contained a lot of screaming, while "Frame and Glass" feels more alternative with all singing. To me, this is one of the more impressive tracks because of how great the vocal work is and how catchy the track is. The next track, "Sleeping Giant," goes right back to the chugging and even has guest vocals from Tommy Green of the one and only Sleeping Giant. Line in the Sand continues to follow this pattern of switching off between heavy and alternative until near the end. I enjoy how Close Your Eyes tries to keep some variety, but the alternative tracks sound much stronger and the post-hardcore ones lose my interest. It feels like Close Your Eyes are trying to please some old fans while trying to move forward with their sound at the same time.
Clocking in at 50 minutes, Line in the Sand seems to run a lot longer than it should and Close Your Eyes would have been much better off cutting out some of the bland, boring tracks to reduce the time on it. If you're looking for something that sounds like the older Close Your Eyes, you might be disappointed with Line in the Sand. While it is a solid album, a good portion of it seems to be dedicated to showing off Robinson's talent and exactly what he is bringing to the band. In that regard, this album is successful; however, it seems as if the vocals have become the top priority and the album is lacking in every other aspect. Some key tracks to listen to are "Burdened By Hope," "Frame and Glass," "Trends and Phrases" and "My Way Home."