Hands – Give Me Rest – Review

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Since 2007, the god-fearing, Fargo, ND trio Hands has made significant progressive strides in their complimentary brand of prog rock/hardcore music. Following the peeking success of their first album, 2009′s “Creator,” the band hit a few speed bumps, most notably the departure of Jerik Hendrickson from the group, as well as the little matter of lead vocalist/guitarist, Shane Ochsner, falling into a creative pit of self-doubt regarding his own personal religious views. It was then understood how pertinent it was for Hands to regroup and put forth an effort that solidified their direction and musical talent once more. After three strenuous months of hammering out the effort’s recording and mixing, the band has delivered their new album, “Give Me Rest,” which, after such a long production time, is something they will probably need a lot of.

Generally speaking, “Give Me Rest” continues from where “Creator” left off, with patiently-building atmospheric hardcore lead by Shane’s stiff shouts and a boat-load of effects-ridden guitars —  but it’s where the band takes this effort from there, which opens up a whole new can of worms. The new album sports a much more coherent production, sounding less like it was recorded in a dank basement, and more like a professional studio space. Which makes sense since the band has noted they put a large amount of time and detail into this new record. As Shane puts it, “This is the first album we’ve done that has allowed some time for detail. I’ve used 5 different drum kits, 5 different guitar amps, 8 different guitars, and several different miscellaneous instruments to cater to each individual song.” If you think this is an insane amount of preparation, well it’s because it is. The bands perfectionism really pays off musically for them though, as the recording musical chairs polishes all the rough spots, leaving songs that echo around in ethereal limbo. Take tracks like the slow-build, pulsing track “The Helix” that contrasts Shane’s bellowing growls with a set of quietly resonating guitars, and the title track “Give Me Rest” which plays almost like a Coldplay song, supported by captivating clean vocals, an atmospheric back-drop, and plenty of melodic guitars (filled with petal-y goodness of course).

Speaking on the “creative pit of self doubt” mentioned earlier, “Give Me Rest“‘s entire lyrical zeitgeist focuses on strained religious beliefs. The “Hi god, are you there? It’s me Shane” dilemma as it were. So words like “forgive me for falling out. It’s just not the way i see you. Take me to the water. Let there be light, to reveal everything we’ve become. Take me to the water. I’m losing my faith.” from the baptism metaphors of “Water” will have dyed-in-the-wool jesus freaks either closet-relating to or shunting the band for its “blasphemes” ::chuckle::, while those who aren’t worried about theology will wonder what took the band so long to question all the logical holes. This may be new ground for christian bands, for the rest of music-dom it looks like a dog furiously chasing his tail.

Agenda aside, Hands has put forth their most ambitious and entrancing effort to date. With each and every track, you get slowly pulled into an ocean of guitar resonance mixed with short bursts of hardcore. So while I would suggest picking up “Creator” as a frame of reference for how far the band has come, recommending “Give Me Rest” comes first because it’s a better effort in almost every way, from the production, to the abstract instrumentation, to even the lyrics about self-discovery. So christian music fans and prog-rock fans alike will have something to clamor about for this band. [Staff]

Score: 4 (out of 5)

Release Date: July 5th, 2011
Record Label: Facedown Records
Genre: Progressive Rock/Hardcore

RIYL: Sleeping Giant, Trenches, My Epic

Track Listing:
1. I Will
2. Water
3. Cube
4. The Helix
5. Here I Am
6. Jovian
7. Northern Lights
8. 2005
9. Restart
10. Give Me Rest

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