When I first watched a video of Idle Hands that was recommended me on Youtube my first impressions were average. The video looked pretty cheesy and low budget, the music seemed dramatic and fairly simple but for some reason I was intrigued enough to check out the EP, Don’t Waste Your Time. I listened to it once through and wasn’t blown away but when it finished I had the urge to listen to the album again. Over the next week I probably listened to that short twenty minute EP about twenty times and was absolutely hooked on this band. It’s odd how music can work like that, often the music that catches your attention sooner seems to wear sooner whereas the bands you didn’t always seem to like initially are some of those that grow on and even stay with you. The songs planted a seed in my brain and before I knew it I couldn’t get enough.
Mana is the first full-length from this Portland, Oregon based trio turned quartet that are now doing big tours around Europe to commemorate their debut album. The music of this band sounds both so familiar yet has an interesting edge that make the music feel fresh. The band possesses all of the hallmarks of traditional heavy metal, especially the NWOBHM side of the spectrum, but add a dark and eerie edge that is reminiscent of gothic rock (think The Cure, Sisters of Mercy and The Mission). I have always felt the formula to creating something popular revolves around taking something old and new (or in this case, old and old) and mixing them together to make something new and fresh. In this regard I feel that Idle Hands have excelled.
The music’s most prominent features are the dark baritone voice of the lead vocalist Gabriel Franco as well as the melodic and technical lead work of Sebastian Silva and I am a fan of both. Don’t me wrong, the rhythm section, consisting of Colin Vranizan and Brandon Hill, does a great job; every now and then we hear a drum fill or bass part which catches our attention, but on the whole the rhythm section is mixed a bit lower than the two lead instruments and form a more supporting role over the course of this album. Lyrically the album is quite interesting. They are catchy while also being suitably morbid, grotesque, depressing, and slightly violent with a dash of expected high fantasy silliness (“dragon why do you cry?”). That being said, although the title may seem ridiculous the song’s lyrics are quite a thoughtful take on one’s imagination and the loss thereof as we become older and more jaded (still not sure I’m sold on the weird countdown part though).
A couple of tracks from this album are re-recorded from the EP, namely “Don’t Waste Your Time” and “Blade and the Will”. I already mentioned I loved the EP so I will leave them out of my favourite tracks of the album, although I do really like them. It is actually real tough to say which my favourite tracks of the album are but if I was going to pick they would have to be “Cosmic Overdrive”, “Give Me To The Night”, and “Double Negative” (probably the most emo of the tracks on the album).
It is hard for me to give this album much real criticism as it is something that really speaks to me and on so many different levels but if I was going to be objective, the music can be both sad as well as fairly cheesy, so if you aren’t a fan of the 80’s or bad gory horror like I am it might not be up your alley. This band is pretty upfront with what it is selling to you. It is catchy and palatable but still harbors relatively deep lyrical themes. Give it a chance. Maybe it will grow on you as quickly as it did for me.