Review: Turbid North – Eyes Alive

Tex-Alaskan mountain metallers Turbid North are back with their sophomore album.

Turbid North occupy a very special place in my grim heart. I absolutely fell in love with their previous record, 2010’s Orogeny. The seamless blend of Morbid Angel-esque death metal with sludge and progressive elements drawn from the hallowed halls of the Southern Georgia metal tradition (Mastodon and Baroness are key influences here) was a formula that immediately attracted me. The debut further upped the ante with some harmonized guitar dueling that would make Thin Lizzy proud and a number of genuinely poignant moments that could make even the most burly of cavemen weep. Pair these sonic attributes with a thematic concept about survival in the harshest Alaskan climes and it is no wonder how Orogeny and I became hetero life-mates so quickly.


The Eyes Alive line-up: Chris O’Toole, Nick Forkel, and Jono Garrett

However, after five years without a new record and a significant line-up change (losing a singer and a rhythm guitarist), the Texan/Alaskan/British band’s future was in question. And just to prove how very wrong my doubt was, Turbid North came back with a goddamned vengeance this November with Eyes Alive, their third album released via the band’s own The Pyramid label.

Eyes Alive is, for existing fans, a perfect follow-up to Orogeny; and for new listeners, it is a great starting point, distilling all of the elements that made the debut album fantastic into a succinct and compelling listen. The album roars out of the gates with the aggressive death metal-oriented title track. Later in the same track, the sludgy southern breakdown recalls Crowbar or Kingdom of Sorrow — featuring a selection of prime riffage that would make Kirk Windstein jealous. The next track, “The Pyramid Drones,” really showcases the vocal prowess that the album puts on display. Guitarist Nick Forkel has stepped up to the plate for vocal duties (as well as being the group’s principal songwriter) out of necessity, but one would never be able to tell. His singing oscillates from pitched cavemen shouting to pissed-off death growls, to John Baizley-esque harmonies, to Phil Anselmo signature wailing throughout the album’s nine songs. Forkel executes all of these styles with admirable skill and swagger whilst still treading his own path.

Did I mention that this album is aggressive as hell? “The Destroyer of Worlds” is a standout track that is a veritable punch in the face and a kick in the balls with the pure ferocity of the riffs on display. Following, is the centerpiece of the album, the pairing of “Red Giant” and “The Burning Sky,” which provides a great point-counterpoint dynamic. Where “Red Giant” mellows out a bit and explores a twangy, post-apocalyptic guitar solo over acoustic guitar, “The Burning Sky” then comes in to take a sledgehammer to any notion of perceived gentleness that listeners may have felt in those previous quieter moments. And with this dynamic songwriting, there is always groove in plentiful supply. In fact, I believe Eyes Alive has fulfilled my entire groove quota for this year and the following year (not really; I always need more groove).

In addition to the riffage, the production on Eyes Alive is one of the best I have heard this year (tied for first with Cattle Decapitation; and yes, I do keep a running tab of productions I like because I am an audio engineering nerd). The mix is an expertly crafted slab of organic sludgy thickness with just enough precision and clarity for the faster death metal elements to be heard with intelligibility — a feat that is relatively difficult to achieve in this day and age of triggered samples and micro-polished sounds. As a result, the production quality on Eyes Alive absolutely smokes the production on Orogeny, and, for that matter, many other down-tuned metal acts today. Whereas they may merely be afterthoughts on other records, even the more atmospheric touches shine on this album. The twangy guitar elements are not lost me and are certainly appreciated: as the theme of the record and its artwork suggests, we have transitioned with the band out of Orogeny’s tundra wilderness to the sandblasted desert, necessitating a distinctly bluesy shift in tone. In the end, I think Eyes Alive is going to become my go-to example of the perfect matching of excellent riffs with superb production.

There really are no negative words I have for this album; it is, in my humble opinion, quite nearly flawless. If Turbid North were not on your radar before, they definitely should be now. Of course, we listeners are always looking toward the future with newer bands, thinking, “Wow, I bet the next album will be great,” or “I see real potential here; can’t wait to see where they go.” The later album slump is hard, even fatal for some groups. Turbid North is not one of these bands. They have proven without a doubt on Eyes Alive that they mean business, goddamnit.

Turbid North’s Eyes Alive: wake up and smell the dirt. This album is perfectly brewed to make a happier, sludgier you.

5 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell


(Photo Via)

  • This isn’t bad IMOAO (in my old-ass opinion.)

    I hit play on that Bandcamp embed…it went from Peaceful Intro -to- “OMFG, where’s the volume button!!!” ¡jajajajajajajaja!

    • tertius_decimus

      Yeah, placing volume bar takes just few lines of code, why it’s so complicated to do so? If only whoever drives Bandcamp thinks it’s redundant…

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Not sure how I feel, but I like the three-piece aspect.

    • Old Man Doom

      From what I’ve seen via youtube, they fucking rip as a three piece.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    You write a good review, I dig your style.
    Even though I am naturally suspicious against anyone who likes this many things.

    I’ll check the music later on.

    • Old Man Doom

      Oh, trust me, Beargod, I hate plenty of things. I hate bananas, Paul Giamatti (and his stupid punchable face), and more.


    I can get down with this

    But i keep reading it as Turgid North because boners


    These guys rule.

  • ┼yree

    It doesn’t sound shitty enough for my liking.

  • ME GORAK B.C.™

    THIS ROCK HARD!!!!!!!!!!!! GORAK LIKE!!!!!!!!!!! THANKS FELLOW CAVE MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Isnt the Satellite of Love the place from MST3K?

    • Old Man Doom

      Yessir. Huge fan.

  • RJA

    Great review Old Man –
    I definitely dig the music – not a huge fan of the vocals but overall dis be pretty alright.
    Stereogum has the Black Market for November up – definitely worth the read, bunch a shit about Abbath. Also found this pretty sweet ep through there –

    • Lacertilian

      I have good news for you RJA, a piece I’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks might please you.

      • RJA

        I’m thrilled that somebody is interested in pleasing me.

  • Nice write up OMG, the influences of this band add up to something original. They have potential to be one of those bands that could get very popular with fans of heavy music.

  • Risto Salonen

    This is their third album, actually. Apart from that it was a decent read 🙂

    • Jason Dahlke

      If we are getting down on that, it’s actually their 4th. They released an album in Alaska (self titled iirc) before moving to Texas and releasing “Under the eight”

      • Old Man Doom

        Good to know. A cursory google search hardly turns up anything, but I’d love to check out their early stuff before Orogeny. If you’ve got links, please send ’em my way!

    • Dubs

      Well I’ll be damned. I’ve never heard Under the Eight.

    • Old Man Doom

      Well, shit. Never heard of another one besides Orogeny. Thanks for the heads up.

      • Dubs

        I edited your review already to make it look like you did know.

        • Old Man Doom

          You da best.

    • Welcome to the Toilet, Risto!


  • JWEG

    I’d buy this right away from bandcamp if the Canadian dollar weren’t currently doing a slow and economically-counterintuitive death march in the wrong direction from the U.S. counterpart.

    It certainly has all the standard descriptors of something I’d dig even with a 3.5-toilet review, and a 5-throne review at that only makes it more appealing.

    • Old Man Doom

      I understand the financial issue, but get on it asap. Good, good stuff.

  • Dubs

    I really, really like this album. It scratches an itch that very albums can scratch. More on that from me later. Great review.

    • i’m just going to co-sign everything you just said.


      I think they make creams for that, W

      • Dubs

        Not this kind of itch.

        • 100% PURE BLACKBEARD

          Sounds p srs bro

          • Dagon

            I’ve seen it. The groin rash is out of this world.

  • Count_Breznak

    Certainly could do without the clean crap..but the rest makes up for it.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Class review man. And this is indeed sounding pretty kapowza!

  • Waynecro

    I could lift to this, bruh. Thanks for the great review!

    • CyberneticOrganism


      • Waynecro

        That looks like Cthuvian.

        • 100% PURE BLACKBEARD

          Mother fuckers in here speakin Klingon and shit

    • Old Man Doom

      Definitely solid lifting material, brosef.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    Did someone say harmonic guitar dueling? I’m sold.

  • Dagon

    This definitely deserves the 5 toilets. Album is great, one of the finer releases this year.

  • Boss the “Crimson King” Ross

    Missed them live by 2 months. Damn.

  • InfinityOfThoughts

    I am a HUGE fan of this band. Orogeny has been in my rotation since its release: it blends together perfectly so many elements of what I love in metal, from sludge to death to progressive and beyond…I’m so happy to see Eyes Alive continues and expands on that beginning. This band is definitely one to watch.

  • Lacertilian

    Dubs convinced me to listen to this album a couple of weeks back and I’ve been coming back to it a fair bit. Solid stuff.
    The slide guitar on ‘Red Giant’ gets my scales flared up in the best way.
    Some of the lead tones remind me of the excellent sound Tempel achieved on their latest.
    Also, some Earthship-style vocals in there, which is not a bad thing at all.

  • Another awesome review. You guys have been killing it <3

    The music here is great, OMD. The musicianship is spot-on, from the embed video, they really know how to progress between the tempos without sounding it forced. The drum/bass combination is so powerful, the drummer have a very aggresive style and the bassist seems to inject a little of melodies to the more crushing parts. The growls "harmonies" were something that I liked too.I'm now interested in the whole album. Thanks!

  • Eliza

    Thanks for introducing me to this great band!

  • tertius_decimus

    Checked the preview: the stuff literally spits evil. Thanks, Old Man Doom!