Friday, August 19, 2011

Hands - Give Me Rest

Give Me Rest
(c)2011 Facedown Records

I will never forget meeting this young bearded guy at Cornerstone 2009. He reminded me of a young Keith Green dressed in a jean jacket with all these classic Christian rock pins all over it. Needless to say, Josh Silbernagel and I talked for what seemed like hours about the scene. He was maybe 22 at the time (he will have to correct me), and his knowledge of Jesus music was astounding. In the midst of the conversation with my new friend, I discovered he was the drummer for this new post rock metalcore band called Hands. I checked out their set, not sure what to expect. I was blown away by their explosiveness! I wasn't a fan of metalcore in general, mostly from boring chord choices and rhythms that I heard on all the generator stages and CD's slipped to me by bands looking for reviews. It all sounded homogenous and constantly angry. These guys were different. My eyes were opened, so to speak. Maybe it was my ears.

With three full lengths and an early EP under their belts, Hands has quickly become respected within the Christian community and outside of it. From Fargo, ND, they blend elements from post rock bands like Isis, who are more metalcore in presence, and possibly Pelican. Moving between the growling, but controlled screaming and melodic undertones of Shane Ochsner, laying atop a near prog chord progression, yet alternative/metalcore in delivery, their sound is accessible to those looking for more variety in the realm of sonic crunch.

The CD layout of a body resting in fetal position as a constellation outline gives perspective to the absolute power and ambience of this band. The growl and sparse drum beat start off "I Will", but don't let it fool you. There is little on the soft side with these guys. The only song with a down tempo is "The Helix" at the beginning, with an almost whispering melodic vocal over a light guitar strumming. This doesn't last long. At times, the guitar builds on an ambient theme, then overpowers you with a wall of distortion amidst changing low end rhythms. "Here I Am" is the crossover alternative/metal radio song that brings it home for me; a song seemingly about Samuel and God waking him up, and Samuel saying, "Here I am, Lord. Send me." There is no weak link throughout this disc. "Jovian" is an absolute rocker and a song of submission to God. It breaks into this ambient groove toward the end that is a must for headphones. "Northern Lights" starts with a guitar driven post rock theme, and has an almost echo vocal riding on top of the rhythm. Did I say incredible? "2005" shows off the range of Shane's growling ability over a minor harmony with a hard alt rock vibe beneath it all. I'm simply impressed. "Restart" continues this theme with a clean guitar lick as Shane screams, "I get frustrated,... but I just need to let go." The disc ends with the title track, a stellar introspective mellow rock offering ("Is my name in there?") that crescendos brilliantly over "Give me rest" before bringing it all back down.

Owning their short discography, I know Shane Ochsner, Kevin Schwartz (bass), and Josh Silbernagel have discovered and built upon a strong formula in this niche market. This is their most complete and impressive offering. Oh, and I'm really glad I met Josh, Jesus rocker pins and all.

10 of 10 clicks
August 2011

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