Idle Hands – “Mana” (Eisenwald)
Battle Helm Rating
Ever wondered what may have happened if Joy Division became a US hard rock band – well, Idle Hands might be the answer! Hailing from Portland and already on a roll recording this first full length album just after their debut EP last year, Idle Hands take the style that became post punk and have fused it into modern hard rock with a very American sound. Whether grooving or basking in melancholy, guitarist / vocalist Gabriel Franco’s baritone singing is a dead ringer for the late but still lamented Ian Curtis and that’s not all, as Sebastian Silva’s equally heart tender clanging melodies would make Bernard Sumner proud – the only thing missing being Hooky’s high lead bass. Still, there’s no intentional desire to re-invent the wheel and there’s equally aspects from US indie bands like The Afghan Whigs making the music here more upbeat and harder in places, although stylised into a sound of their own. But whatever the case “Mana” is truly something to behold! Wailing in with noisy tremolo’s reminiscent of Todd Rundgren, the metallic melodies and Franco’s vocals drive ‘Cosmic Overdrive’ at a fast pace, completed by plenty of hard shout outs and frantic drumming in places while elsewhere, soulful melodies and wailing solos complete the catchy hook laden song brilliantly. Even more upbeat is ‘Give Me The Night’ with its emotive wailing guitars and Franco’s tender vocals contrasting with the dramatic rapid fire chorus, thumping rock beat and shimmering metallic melodies – instantly addictive! Slowing it down on ‘Dragon, Why Do You Cry?’, Franco’s deep tones once again blend with the heart breaking guitar, delicate in places but equally in its emotive riffs, and when he soars higher, it’s only onto greater ecstasy. With ‘Double Negative’ providing a hard punchy beat and the bass actually becoming more prominent, the guitars wail movingly as Franco drops in highs and even a roar before heading into a twin guitar melody on this very live number perfectly crafted for exactly that setting. Hugely impressive, it’s easy to see why “Mana” is exactly that – straight from heaven!