Album Review :
Close Your Eyes - Empty Hands & Heavy Hearts

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Band:  Close Your Eyes
Title: 
Empty Hands & Heavy Hearts
Label: 
Victory Records
Release Date: 
October 25, 2011
Reviewer: 
Jessica Cooper


Track Listing:

  1. Hope Slips Away (The World Is Ours To Change)
  2. Empty Hands
  3. Erie
  4. Valleys
  5. Injustice
  6. Paper Thin
  7. Wormwood
  8. Keep The Lights On
  9. Carry You
  10. Wolves
  11. Scars
  12. Heavy Hearts

I cannot express how excited I am about this release.  Over the summer I had multiple opportunities to attend shows that the Close Your Eyes boys have played, and been able to experience first-hand the energy that oozes from every track on this record.  The sound on Empty Hands & Heavy Hearts is considerably different from their first release, We Will Overcome, and it shows from beginning to end.  I got my preorder in the mail yesterday, and have since listened to the album more times than I can count on fingers and toes.  One thing I can definitely say is that these guys have done a great job in maintaining the elements of melodic hardcore and pop punk that has musically defined and shaped the band’s message of hope and love since the start.

This release has shown their improvement and growth, and has also modified and magnified the high-energy status that Close Your Eyes has achieved in the music industry.  The music is faster and more raw, but cleaner at the same time.  I’ve heard people say that the band sounds like Comeback Kid and Stick To Your Guns had a baby. That makes total sense, especially when you consider how much the tempo has increased in comparison to their last album.

A couple weeks ago, I went to a show CYE played at Remmington’s in Springfield, MO, and had a chance afterwards to stand in on a conversation front-man Shane was having with a couple of members from bands that opened that night.  One of the guys asked him the general “What was your inspiration for writing the songs?” and his response blew me away.  I won’t quote him, because I can’t remember his exact words, but basically he said that there is a lot of injustice in society, and that if people would treat others with dignity and respect, the problem would likely be less evident.

That whole idea is undeniably supported by the lyrics on at least half of the tracks.  Without a doubt, the most appealing aspect of Close Your Eyes’ music, to me, is the lyrics, because every song has one line that serves as a battle cry, and that is what keeps me coming back for more.  Plus, who doesn’t love a good gang vocal?

Tracks like “Hope Slips Away (The World Is Ours To Change)” and “Injustice” challenge listeners to take a stand in shaping the future of a generation that has a reputation for sitting idly by:

“We’re standing on the brink, and I for one will not stand and watch as our hope slips away. When will we stand and say enough is enough? Open your eyes and take a stand instead of giving up.” – from “Hope Slips Away”

“This hate is not my home, never again, not anymore. This hate is not my home. I will speak out against your injustice; I will be the change.” – from “Injustice”

The back-to-back tracks “Erie” and “Valleys” are both hard-hitting descriptions of finding identity. “Erie” shows the loss of security and hope in the midst of struggle, and “Valleys” brings that sense of security and hope back into these dark places we all experience:

“The isolation kills me. I can feel these walls closing in; the embers in my heart are dying. I can’t keep them lit. I felt so empty, I couldn’t help but run. What good could I do, with all the damage I have done?” – from “Erie”

“And even amidst the struggle of finding the man that you have called me to be, your love reminds me that though I am broken, I am still standing; I am still screaming.” – from “Valleys”

Overall:  Every single word on this album gives me chills.  From beginning to end, the music and lyrics provide an illustration of the human struggle between light and dark, between hope and brokenness, and between peace and discontentment.  The energy never stops.  The message clings to your heart and sticks in your mind all the way through, and even after you listen to the album.  This band remains consistent in their creativity and ingenuity, both lyrically and musically.  If you’re a lover of words and solid, energetic music, get your butt out to Hastings, Hot Topic, or FYE and buy this album, and pay homage to a band that really represents and exudes the message it proclaims.

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