Open Hand – The Dream

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I love record shopping. It’s one of the few things in life that I can indulge in to forget about the world. What makes it even better is when you make an impulse purchase of a CD that, when you finally get home and slip it into your stereo, makes an instant impression on you. This is what happened with California’s Open Hand.

‘The Dream’ is their first release on Trustkill Records, and while it is distinctly more melodic than most of the labels roster, it certainly packs a considerable punch. A collection of the bands previous two EP’s (Entitled ‘Radio Days’ and ‘Evolutions’ respectively), it is more of a retrospective view of the band, and a taster for what is to come on their up and coming debut album than an album in itself. The shift from one EP to the next is evident, and while this may threaten to disrupt the flow of the music, luckily it doesn’t have that much of an effect.

Opening with the sound of a telephone which conjured up memories of a Pitchshifter song (the name escapes me), ‘In Your Eyes‘ kicks off into a slightly off-kilter number, full of little breakdowns and crunching guitars which reminded me of The Crystal Method when they feel like being a techno-esque rock band. While this is hardly the greatest of album openers, all is forgiven when ‘Life As Is’ explodes from the stereo. The subdued introduction gives way to layers of crunching guitars, sporadic drumming and Justin Isham’s distinctive soaring vocals which dominate this recording, despite seemingly being quite low in the mix.

One minute, Open Hand will be reminiscent of the crunching post-hardcore sounds of Quicksand, the next minute they will slip into self-indulgent meanderings reminiscent of Filter, but no matter which direction they head down, it is generally captivating and the focus on hardcore with melody, as opposed to merely dabbling with the occasional ‘non-screamo’ moment is rewarding. The double bass drumming and jagged guitar work often threatens to interrupt the smooth flow of the music, but Open Hand manage to pull it off almost perfectly.

Despite being 300+ words into this review, I’m still confused as to what I am trying to say. Open Hand are an extraordinarily difficult band to describe, and depending on my mood I can either absolutely love this album or instead, I can simply be mildly impressed by it. The likes of ‘Life As Is’, ‘The Dream’ and ‘11th Street’ (Which has a pre-chorus you could fall in love with … the shredding guitar interlude is a masterstroke) are all highly accomplished, stupidly melodic hardcore numbers which show the band in a highly positive light. However, the meandering ‘Radio Days’ and the blandness of ‘Never Alone’ close the album on a downer.

Open Hand are a band of great potential. It is easy to see why Trustkill were so thrilled at their addition to their roster, and there are some true moments of genius on ‘The Dream’ that point to a great future. As well as this, the artwork with the CD is amazing. The fold-out inlay card and the wonderfully colourful artwork on the sleeve is one of the reasons why I picked up this CD in the first place. If Open Hand build on this potential, they could truly become something special.

Ross

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