It's always been a bit of a cliche to proclaim every new emotive hardcore release as being able to connect with the listener. Indeed, everywhere you turn there is a new band riding in the wake of the 'emo revival'. Many of these bands are simply pop-punk bands with twinkly guitars and excusably weak vocals; while there is nothing inherently wrong with these things, the result can be music that is unintentionally self-ridiculing but still maintains a certain aesthetic that fans of emo music find passable.
Human Hands are a band from Birmingham, England, and their sound is reminiscent of 90s emo bands in the vein of Indian Summer, particularly their use of tension building. The opening track "Disease" is a prime example of using a pull-and-release method to build tension without sounding too drawn out. They employ simple, effective guitar riffs throughout the album which work in conjunction with their build-ups in such a way that every minor change feels monumental. All the band members show a great deal of restraint, and the result is rewarding. Over the course of the seven minute opening track there are almost-inperceivable subtleties that continue to build before culminating in an explosive finish. The vocalist coincides nicely with this, gradually increasing the level of catharsis as the track progresses and giving a nice feeling of unity.
The vocals throughout the album are sparse, which works to the album's advantage. If they were too frequent they could have easily hindered the impact of the instrumental builds. The mixing of the vocals is also worth noting, as they truly sound as if they were sung in the same room as the listener, hiding just bellow the swell of the instrumentals (when I first listened to "Disease" I had to look over my shoulder, as the vocals caught me off guard). The singer is similar to Jonathan Vance in his spoken/shout delivery, and in "String" the backup vocalist sings an unsteady melody akin to Penfold. While name-dropping various 'quintessential emo' musicians may seem unnecessary, it is important to draw attention to how successfully Human Hands capture the essence of their influences while still sounding fresh.
is powerful, yet subtle. Every song succeeds at delivering a satisfying experience, and the album as a whole is uplifting, utilizing modest instrumental and vocal abilities to deliver music that is both raw and painstakingly composed. For fans of emo old and new, Human Hands' debut is a must-listen.