Close Your Eyes

Empty Hands And Heavy Hearts

Written by: PP on 18/02/2012 18:58:05

Close Your Eyes is another band that passed underneath my radar last year even though they shouldn't have - probably because they are on Victory and it is becoming rarer and rare to hear a quality release from the label these days. Their sophomore album "Empty Hands And Heavy Hearts" is an exercise in taking the high intensity hardcore punk of bands like This Is Hell and Comeback Kid on one hand, and the soaring, huge choruses of older Rise Against material (circa "Siren Song Of The Counter Culture" era) on the other, and combine them for an explosive, grating hardcore expression that isn't afraid to wander deep into melodic hardcore and even melodic punk rock territory in places.

So, in its essence, Close Your Eyes come across as a more melodic and more accessible version of both of the hardcore bands mentioned just before. That said, they deliver all of their songs in a blistering tempo, even when their vocalist Shane Raymond cleans up his singing style from the harsh (albeit still melodic) screaming style he normally uses, such as on "Erie". This is where the Rise Against influence is at its clearest, as the track is about as vintage Rise Against as it comes in terms of its melody line. That's not a bad thing, on the contrary it makes the piece the highlight track on the album alongside "Valleys" and "Paper Thin", both of which rely on a similar dynamic soaring chorus-meets-aggressive screaming template. These are songs with capability of snowballing Close Your Eyes from the A Day To Remember clone they were on their debut album into a serious contender in the melodic hardcore genre.

Most importantly, "Empty Hands And Heavy Hearts" provides plenty of variation throughout. It's not all about RA style mammoth choruses contrasting the hardcore barks, because sometimes the band delves so far into classic hardcore punk (see: "Injustice") that it's hard to believe this band once used to sound like A Day To Remember. The intensity level and aggression factor are tuned to crazy levels at times, which serves as a great way to highlight the more melodically tinged tracks that thus stand out way better. When "Paper Thin" follows the aforementioned hardcore punk track, it's spacey, mid tempo punk riffs come as a welcome change to the relentless pounding you've been in the receiving end of just before.

Though far from a genre classic, "Empty Hands And Heavy Hearts" showcases Close Your Eyes as prominent songwriters that are, most likely, only an album away from writing a true masterpiece if they are able to streamline their songwriting in the same pace as they did from their debut in 2010 into this record. Lets keep an eye on them, shall we?

Download: Erie, Valleys, Paper Thin, Hope Slips Away
For the fans of: This Is Hell, Comeback Kid, Rise Against
Listen: YouTube

Release date 25.10.2011
Victory Records

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