Album Review :
Hands - The Sounds of Earth

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Artist: Hands
Album: The Sounds of Earth
Label: Oort Records
Release Date: February 24, 2009
Review by: Michael Mayer III

Tracklisting:

  1. Beginning
  2. Judgment
  3. Mercy
  4. Separation
  5. Communion
  6. The Sounds of Earth
  7. Despair
  8. Hope
  9. Ignorance
  10. Revelation

The Sounds of Earth is a very interesting album for a number of reasons. For one, it’s the first of two releases in the same year on two different labels to start their career. For another, it’s an ambitious concept album loaded with instrumentals and wonderfully uplifting lyrics. Concept albums are something that even most veteran bands wouldn’t dare try. It also has bits and pieces of a number of genres with the main one being progressive rock/metal. The songs are constantly changing with the guitars being the focus and it works well to establish a mood for each one. Of course, it helps that the members of Hands are very proficient at what they do. The Sounds of Earth is like the poster child for atmospheric music and at least it’s not at all depressing.

In the booklet they explain that the songs go in pairs (ex. ‘Judgment’ and ‘Mercy’ or ‘Despair’ and ‘Hope’) and they tried to capture the theme of each song title in the music. The album starts with ‘Beginning’ and goes through the whole process of one’s walk with God to ‘Revelation’. I can definitely say that this was a success and I was actually a bit surprised at how well the songs conveyed the theme considering there’s little use of vocals or lyrics to drive a story. Sure, you have the deep growls and other types of screaming that occasionally come in as well as some strong singing, but that only happens on a few tracks. The main key here is the strong instrumentation that is often times just stunningly beautiful. ‘Mercy’ and ‘Despair’ come to mind and ‘Hope’ is as uplifting and powerful as you’d expect. It’s also the only song that seems to have a clear story as far as lyrics go, which are delivered by both spoken word and passionate screaming. Some of the instrumentals were lacking a bit as far as doing enough interesting things to keep me focused and I would’ve liked more vocals in some of the tracks.

The last song, ‘Revelation’, is the highlight of the album and that’s how it should be. At first one might be worried to see it’s nearly ten minutes long. A successful song of this length is one where you hardly realize just how much time passed by the time it ends and it leaves you wanting more. That’s exactly what happened here so mission accomplished Hands. The first half is heavier with deep growls being the focus, but then it slows down into almost a worship song with fantastic singing and a great guitar solo as they sing ‘Hear O’ Earth, the Lord our God is one’ over and over.

Overall: Whether or not someone enjoys this album will depend a lot on their attention span and what mood they are in. If you aren’t in a mood for instrumentals and the like then you probably won’t enjoy this all that much and you can bump the rating down a notch or two. However, if you are all for relaxing, uplifting music there is no better album to spin than The Sounds of Earth.

Gems of this album are: ‘Revelation’, ‘Hope’, ‘Despair’, ‘Mercy’

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