Hearts & Hands
My Own Machine


4.0
excellent

Review

by betray USER (6 Reviews)
March 18th, 2014 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With founding member Alex Koehler gone to focus on Chelsea Grin, Hearts & Hands produces a quality record that their self-titled EP showed they had the potential to make.

In 2010, ‘Chelsea Grin’ guitar tech Alex Lyman and ‘Becoming Everest’ vocalist Garrett Garfield recorded a track together titled ‘You’re Not Alone’. Upon being shown the track, infamous ‘Chelsea Grin’ frontman Alex Koehler was asked to contribute screamed vocals to counter Garfield’s cleans. Thus, ‘Hearts & Hands' was born, essentially as a Chelsea Grin side project. The band released an average self-titled EP in 2012, and Koehler promptly left to focus on ‘Chelsea Grin’. Flash forward to fall 2013, the Koehler-less ‘Hearts & Hands’ continue on and quietly release their debut full-length album ‘My Own Machine’ on Artery Recordings with the goal of combining metal, pop and electronic elements into an eclectic and original mix.

The album opens with an electronic and piano heavy introduction. Faint voices proclaim that they are “the chosen ones” repeatedly. Within seconds, the listener will take note of the excellent production and mixing, as is the standard for most of Artery Recording’s newest releases. The intro fades seamlessly into the albums’ strongest and opening track “The Chosen Ones”. Garrett Garfield delivers his lines with incredible range, strength and precision. Again, taking notice of the great production, Garfield’s vocals are double-layered where it’s appropriate to be, and they stand alone where they need to. Not having a screamer present to steal Garrett’s spotlight anymore only benefits the listener.

Garfield's lyrics are great, although a bit repetitive and unoriginal at a few points during the span of the album’s 42 minute runtime. Dealing with typical subjects such as women, love, and suicide, the lyrical content of ‘My Own Machine’ is mostly fantastic, but sometimes hit-or-miss. Whereas a great line such as “So quit running all your life trying to leave your past behind / realize your future won’t have time to care about the shadows and the demons you left behind” will stick with the listener, lines that they’ve heard a thousand times over like the repeated “Breathe and close your eyes / so take your chances before you die” and “We are the chosen / we are the chosen ones” may go in one ear and out the other. While a few lyrics lack in originality, they’re all very appropriate for the style of music complementing them. There’s nothing that groundbreaking or deep to be found here lyrically, it’s Garfield’s performance on ‘My Own Machine’ that is the highlight.

In the beginning of the album’s third track ‘Close Your Eyes’, drummer Chris Suitt treats the listener by playing very tightly and proficiently alongside Lyman’s soaring guitar work. The drums on this song and the release as a whole are close to perfect. They are subdued where the music calls for them to be, and fast and energetic where they can be. They lie within a very happy medium; not too high in the overall mix, and not too low either. The bass drum packs a powerful enough punch (or kick) to be heard, but not too much to sound over-produced, fake, or clicky; something founding member Alex Koehler’s band so often falls victim to.

Speaking of which, Alex Lyman must have had a very nice release from the constant chugs of ‘Chelsea Grin’ when recording ‘My Own Machine’. His performance on this record mostly consists of soloing and noodling in the higher register of the guitar almost the whole song, rather than the streams of constant 0’s and 1’s he’s so familiar in dealing with. The album isn’t completely devoid of chugs, however. Rhythm guitarist Chris Kim delivers his fair share of them, however they work very well and only complement Lyman’s higher, cleaner notes with lower, distorted ones. Both guitars have great tones; Lyman’s lead is crisp and buttery and Kim’s rhythm is heavy with a great muddiness to it. Lyman’s aforementioned noodling throughout entire songs might sound unpleasant when described in words, but in practice, it’s actually very appropriate and sounds fantastic. Fletcher Howell’s bass doesn't announce itself in the mix, but if you look for it, you’ll find it adds serious depth to the wonderfully produced mix of ‘My Own Machine’.

Overall, ‘My Own Machine’ is a very solid and horribly underrated release by a band most may only know as “Alex Koehler’s side project”. ‘My Own Machine’s rock solid production, tight, expert drums, great lyrics, and fitting guitar work propel this album to be one of Artery’s better releases by one of their better bands.



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
betray
March 18th 2014


9186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

3rd review ever. As usual, give me tips/pointers/corrections.



Can't believe this album wasn't even up to rate, no less not even reviewed yet.



Seriously? A no-explanation neg minutes after I post this?

OwMySnauze
March 18th 2014


1684 Comments


The neg bandit strikes again...

Apollo
March 18th 2014


10670 Comments


People will neg you just to spite you.

Get over it. I've been negged on all kinds of reviews despite the general consensus that my reviews were well written.

betray
March 18th 2014


9186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Get over it."



I'm not hung up on it by any means. It's a rating on a website. But I appreciate it.



I would just like some feedback on the review. n_n

titanslayer
March 19th 2014


2713 Comments


Pos
"In the beginning of the album’s third track ‘Close Your Eyes’..."
Why do you single that track out? To answer my question you could describe the drumming on that track
in a bit more detail, and then you could say something like "The track 'Close Your Eyes' is a perfect
of the excellent drumming on the album."
Good review

betray
March 19th 2014


9186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks!

lignimvite
March 19th 2014


52 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great review, as it basically expands upon my comment on the album. I'm thinking about seeing these guys live next month with Get Scared and Alesana. While the lyrical content isn't very original, I still can find at least one meaningful line/phrase in each song which is great. The only problem I had with this album was initially getting into it, because the tempos for every song is a lot slower than their EP (although I only liked two songs off that) and the repetitive lyrics of The Chosen Ones chorus initially turned me off from the album. But once I swallowed the pill, I don't want to go back. Hope this album will show the world that this is a legitament band and not just some side project. I know that Lyman is going to be helping Jonny Craig with Slaves, but I just hope that doesn't lead to the end of Hearts & Hands.

betray
March 19th 2014


9186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I couldn't agree with you more... the album was very hard to get into for me as well.



That would be terrible for the band to go out like that. The album didn't generate much recgonition for h&h... couple that with Lyman working with Jonny Craig and Becoming Everest (Garrett's band) recording new music....

lignimvite
March 19th 2014


52 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'm hoping they might play Warped to get some notice, but I guess we'll see. Does anyone know the set their playing on The Decade tour? I believe their only playing songs off this album, but there's only one setlist on setlist.fm and it's only five songs. :/

lignimvite
March 19th 2014


52 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"Can't believe this album wasn't even up to rate, no less not even reviewed yet." - I actually tried adding the album a few weeks ago and updating the page, guess the admins never got around to approving it. I think because this band uses the & symbol in their name rather than just an and this band is actually in the server twice due to a coding mess up. This page is obviously correct now, but here is the page that needs to be removed: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/bands/Hearts-%26amp%3B-Hands/50936/

betray
March 19th 2014


9186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, any band with an '&' is difficult. I think because '&' is a character in links.



Tried with Sirens & Sailors earlier and Of Mice & Men a while back.

Nocturnal
March 19th 2014


1329 Comments


Good review Im gonna have to give these guys a listen.

betray
March 19th 2014


9186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks! You definitely should. They only have one EP and one full-length, so they're not too hard to get into.

betray
April 17th 2014


9186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Noc, did you ever check them out?

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2014


10194 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool band.

betray
November 10th 2014


9186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not a huge fan of this review anymore but yeah this a fun listen

lignimvite
February 10th 2015


52 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Well I went to see them on tour with Alesana but Alex and Chris had already left for Slaves so they literally broke up mid tour. I thought they were going to dissolve because even there page on Facebook was deleted but thankfully they have regrouped with other talented musicians and they'll be releasing a new album this year and touring again.

betray
February 11th 2015


9186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow, that's actually really good to hear



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