Close Your Eyes, an Abilene, Texas-based hardcore punk band just released their sophomore album called Empty Hands And Heavy Hearts a week ago. Their first album We Will Overcome was released in 2010 . This CD was a straight punch in the face. My hopes were high for this new one. With that being said, I picked up a copy at the record store and gave it a spin. Does this record fulfil my high expectations or is it just a waste of money?
Hope Slips Away (The World Is Ours To Change) is the opening track for this record. And o my god how it starts the record. In a good way. From the very first notes it starts with a distorted guitar tune and heavy drum pattern that blows you off your chair. The start has a punk feel and then slowly progresses in to a more hardcore feel towards the second half and the end of the song. The switch between different genres is well executed and put together with some smooth gang vocals. At the end the songs slowly fades out with the same distorted guitar sound straight into the second track called Empty Hands.
Empty Hands is the second number and is also a part of the album title. It’s a straightforward punk song. It starts with an opening guitar riff that catapults you straight into the song. The first half of the song is fast and aggressive. Then in the middle it crashes down and builds up towards the climax at the end. This track showcases the enormous power this band consists in his vocal department. The lead singer can sing, can scream and grunt like the best in the genre. While the beginning of this one is happy and straightforward you get the feeling at the end something dark is about to come.
Speaking of dark powerful tracks: Erie, the third song, has a very dark punk feeling. The meaning behind the song is simple. It’s about a place called Erie. This band totally hates this place and have put this hate into the song. The guitar riffs and drum patterns provoke a certain dark atmosphere that gives me chills throughout one of the shortest tracks of this record. At the end the lead singer sings the following line.
“Can this fire be saved or is it too late?”
Valleys is the lead single of this record. This is also the reason why I got stoked to hear this CD. For me it’s one of the standout tracks on the record. It kicks off with a great guitar riff and the drummer hitting his hi-hat with a simple but breathtaking pattern. The verses have a punk feel and the choruses have a more hardcore feel. The second verse uses the power of the bass well to express this punk feel. The lyrics of this one are simple and easy to sing. Once you’ve heard it, it can get stuck in your head for days. With this song stuck in my head I move on to the next tune.
Injustice is the heaviest and also the most hardcore influenced track on the record. Just before the end there is a breakdown that pulls the plug out of the song before the next song starts.
Paper Thin is the odd one of this cd. it is slower than the other tracks. It’s a great intermezzo to end the first half of the record as you tumble straight into the second half. At the end of the song the gang vocals give it an extra dimension and drag you into the next track.
Wormwood kicks off the second half of this record in a slow but dark way. The beginning is slow-paced. This pattern continues towards the middle of the song. Then at the second half it switches to a faster paced song with a building climax at the end. For me it’s the most heartfelt track I’ve heard to date from this band. Heartfelt is something you can also allocate to the next track.
Keep The Lights On is about the fear about the dark days in your life. It’s the most punk influenced song on their sophomore release. The lyrics are about what they’ve gone through in their personal lives. In the middle it slows down and builds up to a great finale. During this finale the instruments fade out and the singer showcases his enormous voice surrounded by the bass player by singing.
“please keep the lights on, I am trying to make I home,
the sun is sinking, but I won’t go down with it”
The gang vocals pull the song to an and then Carry You comes in.
Carry You has also a deeper meaning. It’s about true friendship and helping each other when you are facing tough days. The lyrics are great but for me it lacks a bit creativity in the musical department. I didn’t get an aha feeling when listening to it. It’s the only letdown on the cd for me.
Wolves -This song is a perfect opener for the closing of the cd. It kicks of with a great drum pattern and a guitar warming up the listener for what is about to come. It switches constantly from a faster to a slower pace. The moment when you don’t expect it a huge breakdown takes place which contains a guest appearance from Virgil from The Ghost Inside. After the breakdown it ends in a slow-paced tempo leading the listener into the next track.
Scars is a fast paced hardcore song. It starts with a great intro guitar riff but in the middle it breaks down into a darker song that gives me chills down my spine. Nothing more, nothing less, it is this track that makes the listener questioning what the last track will sound like.
Heavy Hearts – het closing track opens very strong with a powerful intro riff before the first verse comes in. It starts slow but after the first chorus it speeds up and gets more aggressive in the second verse. After this the song, it even gets more aggressive before it falls apart into the final climax for this record. When you think the ending will blow up your speakers it stops and a choir starts to sing this cd to a breathtaking end.
All I can say is: Damn, this record is amazing. They have truly put their heart into this one and it showcases a more mature sound from the band then on We Will Overcome. It’s definitely worth a spin for every one who dig the punk/hardcore scene.