Review Summary: From the darkest depths of Bandcamp comes what is currently the most crushingly organic record of 2011.
"Bandcamping" is quite an interesting hobby. This pastime, involving the scouring of various Bandcamp pages for free music by underground artists, can be as frustrating as it sometimes is rewarding. The vast majority of the random downloads yielded by these epic searches result in passable to below average music, while a small portion of this free music can be surprisingly competent. Of these above-average artists, fewer still are truly great musicians, while an infinitesimally small cadre of select bandcamp artists put up material that truly has the potential to blow the listener away. Hungry For Hands
' debut release, I Was Hungry For Hands
, is one of these few borderline masterpieces. At first glance, it does not look like anything more than your average instrumental post-rock/metal album. For Christ's sake, it has a goddamn tree-man gracing its cover: how can this ever turn out well?
The funny thing is that even the music itself should not be exceptional. It's pretty standard stuff on paper: heavy and epic post-rock in the vein of If These Trees Could Talk
, excessive song durations, big buildups... Combined with the band's image, this all goes against the purely astounding excellence of I Was Hungry For Hands
. Hardly anything presented here is original in any way, shape, or form, so how in God's name can this be one of 2011's best post-metal records to date? While Hungry For Hands
' musical ideas are mostly borrowed from a variety of better-known acts, the degree of excellence with which they pull off this 33-minute album is something that totally defies their age as a band. With no vocals to detract from the incredibly organic soundscapes crafted by the group, the listener is free to revel in the beautiful riffs accentuated by the most tasteful use of saxophone in any metal-ish band ever
. Hungry For Hands
' integration of soaring saxophone leads into the monolithic sludge riffs of all four tracks is ultimately one of the factors that makes the album such a triumph, setting it apart from other acts more than anything else here.
The strength of I Was Hungry For Hands
lies in its utter perfection of the typical post-rock/metal formula. A song like album highlight Sarah
, with its buildup-oriented structure, would be stagnant fare in the hands of less capable musicians, but Hungry For Hands
have turned the 13-minute epic into one of 2011's most crushingly beautiful songs. Sarah
has it all: shimmering post-rock leads and heartrendingly beautiful saxophone lines laid atop devastating riffs, ambiance-fueled soft sections that serve as respites from the song's heavier moments, and a monstrous, tension-inducing buildup that leads to one of the most immense climaxes in post-metal since Isis
. The song is a monstrosity of songwriting prowess, providing the final push necessary for I Was Hungry For Hands
to transcend from being simply an above-average atmospheric metal album to being a truly exceptional piece of music. The saxophone-infused brilliance of this album completely legitimizes "Bandcamping," proving that no matter how many mediocre bands one might discover and waste his or her precious megabytes on, there is always a very real chance of finding something truly beautiful in the process. Hungry For Hands
have not yet hinted at any follow-up to their debut, but until that happens, we can be satisfied with one of 2011's most overlooked masterpieces.