Music: an expression of humanity, escape, a soundtrack to life, deep passion….
When Creator came out, it was a breath of fresh air in a scene quickly becoming stagnant. It was also a reintroduction to Facedown records and hardcore in general for me. I had spent a lot of time out of the genre and Hands was a nice welcome back.
Give Me Rest blows Creator away. There’s a tension in the music, in the lyrics. There’s an intensity that lacked on Creator, but to contrast that, Give Me Rest has some of the most beautiful pieces of music you’ll hear this year.
The drums come pounding in on I Will as Shane Ochsner screams “Rise! From the Quiet I Will Rise!” The guitar comes in quietly and as the clean vocals come in singing “Rest my soul in you alone” the tension slowly builds and the listener is waiting on this ever-expanding musical field to fully gain steam and explode and then it does. It’s like an exhalation. Water doesn’t waste any time building. But even on Water, as the music slowly dies and the vocals whisper, “Be still so we may hear his voice”, it creates this tension with the listener and as the music erupts back in, it’s like an exhalation.
Hands do a good job at making sure the music stays fresh and isn’t a constant building tension into a crescendoing exhalation. Cube has more of a straight rock riff on the guitar and while the song is still heavy, the vibe on the intro to the song is a nice transition. But when Shane screams “Somebody throw the switch, shut it down”, the music explodes back into the listeners face. As the vocals and ambient guitar open up Helix, you’re relaxed and concentrating on the lyrics. Even when the band fully kicks in, the ambient lead guitar line playing under everything sets a mood of tension and unease and the lyrics accompany that unease.
“I believe Your hands hold the sun. But in the deepest of my mind, I question everything you’ve done.”
So when the music fades and the guitar line lingers, as the band begins to build, you’re ready for the downpour of sound that comes rushing through your speakers.
Here I Am is where the album starts to shift. The bass line intro is nice and has a very familiar feel to it. Even as the vocals scream this tension that Ochsner is feeling, the music carries a different weight. Jovian has a weird interplay between some choir vocals and the guitar riff that create a unique sound. Not unpleasant, just different. Northern Light is where the post-rock influence on Hands’ music really kicks in. Very Appleseed Cast esque, and as a huge Appleseed Cast fan, I’m all for it. It’s the end of a slow shift that had been happening over the course of the last couple of songs so unlike modern metalcore records where the ballad attacks out of the blue, Northern Light is just a beautiful piece of music and Hands pulls off the atmospheric sound really well.
After the relaxation and deep breath that was Northern Light, 2005 brings the tension element of the music back into play. “Burn this body down. To the ashes and the dust, from which it came.” “I am bound by the chains of temptation. I am bound by the demons, staring back.” The song cresendos with the declaration “By Your Grace I am released!” Restart is like the great close and acceptance we’ve been waiting for. Not an end, but a move towards acceptance and an end of tension.
Give Me Rest ends the album beautifully. It’s that peaceful calm that is the perfect end to a record full of tension and questioning.
Give Me Rest is the concept of the album, as the phrase, along with Be Still, is repeated several times. The lyrics accompany the music perfectly and vice versa. It’s heavy and beautiful, tense and calm. Give Me Rest is by far the best record I’ve heard this year.