A lot of music fans tend to associate summertime with pop-punk. It seems like catchy hooks and summer fun go hand in hand, but what about those days when the weather is so intense that it’s unbearable? Does catchy pop still go with those days? That’s why I’ve always associated summertime with more than just pop-punk, but rather with metalcore. The intensity is reminiscent of that of the sun’s, but it really takes just the right band to create this comparison. It is like this that I introduce you to what is 2011’s most intense and most pummeling album, as well as metalcore’s most serene and soothing album, Hands’ Give Me Rest.
One of the main emotions conveyed in the music of Give Me Rest is desolation; this is felt early on in the first track “I Will.” The lone thunderous drums introduce the track, while Shane Ochsner’s screams slowly join in, eventually transforming from a yell into a growl as the song builds up to its final peak. Give Me Rest makes it clear from the beginning that it is an album of emotions.
For a three-piece band, Hands sound quite large. Songs like “Water” and “Jovian” are severely intense and punishing, the riffs are heavy-hitting and the drums are thunderous and loud, the way a metalcore album should be. The heavier songs create the aggression of Give Me Rest and show the anger at the issues the album tackles, such as unwillingness to go on, and final rest.
It may be the heavier tracks that set the up the summer comparison for this band, but what really sets the tone and makes Hands different from other bands in the genre is the ambient-like sound they explore. Songs like “The Helix” and “Northern Lights” not only show the band’s flirtation with more ambient instrumentation, but also show their usage of clean vocals at a much higher scale. Hands also adds some stoner-rock influences in their songs, as shown by the opening riff in “Restart” and the bass groove in “Here I Am.”
I’ve never been one to enjoy Christian lyrics; I always felt like they just didn’t apply to me, but the lyrics from Give Me Rest are so exceptional they’re most definitely noteworthy. The band tackles loss of faith in a most effective way, with lines like “Forgive me for falling out/It’s just not the way I see you/Take me to the water” from “Water” and “I believe your breath fills my lungs/But it’s a thought that hard to swallow/I feel ashamed I can’t hold on” from “The Helix.” The production should also be praised, as all the instruments shine when they are supposed to; no instrument is overlapping the other.
There hasn’t been much in the metalcore world to keep me content as of late. Sure there have been some decent to pretty good albums in it, but nothing to really grab my attention, until now. Give Me Rest is really a gem of an album, it’s original while still being accessible, and it’s pummeling while still being soothing. With this release Hands has shown just how proficient they are at writing good metalcore with just the right amount of outside influences, but most of all they have proven to be one of the genre’s best.