Busting onto the scene in 2007, hardcore act Hands spent some time in the independent realm before signing to the perfect label for their sound, Facedown Records. Shortly after signing came their debut album, Creator. It contains eleven brand new songs (including a hidden track) with a running time of more than an hour, making it quite an ordeal to listen through.
Now, unlike the majority of bands you hear on Facedown that feature rough speed metal riffs and drums and rather unpolished screams and growls, Hands generally contains a good mix of hardcore and power ballads. It sounds a little more well-produced as well, as it has a very clean sound throughout. The songs do have their fair share of growls in the vocal department, but there are a lot of cleaner screams too. The lyrics are mostly well-written, with themes ranging from humility and repentance to worship. In "The Least of These," vocalist Shane Ochsner recognizes just who he is, saying "I have been a hypocrite, and I've been all the dirty things that would disgust You, but in this I have seen compassion when it was undeserved," followed later in the song by "Oh how can I condemn when I've been delivered from the flame? I'll shake the liar's hand because I know that we're the same." The last track, entitled "Creator," is just a straight up worship song - no screaming, double bass, metal riffs, etc. - and repeats the same four lines over and over again ("Sovereign and holy, Creator, raining with mercy, Creator, reveal Your glory, Creator, show us Your nature, Creator"). I always love to see and hear metal bands giving glory to God, but it's also a tough song to get through unless you're already in a worshipful mood or setting. However, at the end of the track, fast forward through the several minutes of silence, and you can hear the hidden track called "Revelation." It's almost like the beginning of another album in the way it starts out. It ends up not being like "Creator," with it taking the turn back into hardcore like the rest of the album.
Another similarity between "Revelation" and the rest of Creator is it's all hard to get through. There's a blatantly obvious talent in the members of Hands, whether it's for writing lyrics or the musicianship of the group, but I found myself having a tough time listening to the album. It was almost like a chore. Nothing in the songs really jumped out and grabbed me or demanded my attention. One of the drawbacks for the songs is the more mellow style of hardcore mixed with long songs, which range from four and a half minutes to nearly ten minutes for "Revelation" (including two songs that are about seven minutes long each). This is really what makes Creator hard to listen to.
These guys do have something going for them. The quality is good and the talent is there. They just still need to refine it a little bit more, and try working on songs that aren't so long and exhausting. It may help to keep the listener's attention a little better, and it might allow for more energy to flow through the music. Now, don't get me wrong, Creator isn't a terrible album. I just think it could've been better.- Review date: 2/4/10, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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