You get home from a long hard day, and decide you wanna throw on some tunes. Not just anything will do though. You need something that’ll release that inner demon that’s been screaming inside of you since you woke up this morning both lyrically, and has that instrumental intensity to match. Something that has that special level of catchiness that both moves your body and soul all at once. Something with choruses that not only do you sing along with out loud, the words carry with you within your mind even days afterwards. You search through a list of artists both familiar and foreign to you, when you suddenly come across a name which immediately strikes your fancy as if to say; I have all you’ve been wanting, and more! Savage Hands. The name hits a chord with both your current emotional state and promises to deliver on that hard hitting rockin’ time you were hoping for, and you’re absolutely right. Their debut, Barely Alive, dishes out all of this and more.
Savage Hands live up to their name, smashing out of the gates with their first single “RED”. Kicking of with blistering guitars over crashing, melodic drumming, you’re lead into a softer verse which only helps to accentuate vocalist Mike Garrow’s fantastic and commanding vocal abilities. After the second chorus the loudness is brought down to a minimum if only to act as the calm before the storm. After a period of only guitar, picking up with some light drumming and soft singing, heavily palm muted guitars plunge through your speakers. The words “YOU’RE LIKE A DEVIL NEVER PICKING A SIDE! EVERY VILLAIN NEEDS A VICTIM, IT’S JUST NOT ME THIS FUCKING TIME!” Those words paired with the onslaught of heaviness is purely intrinsic, validating the very anger and frustration they hope to convey. The song is about being constantly berated and held back by someone close to you, but realizing when it’s time to take a stand. A sentiment many have experienced. This song, is your anthem for change.
The title track, “Barely Alive”, will surely be a mosh inducing pleaser at any live show. The intro to the song is full of profoundly energetic guitars and bass, and riddled with ballistic double bass to boot. The verse, albeit tamer, only helps to continue this vehemence. The bridge begins to ignite a fire inside of the listener, just before breaking into the chorus that sets their world ablaze. Any rock listeners wet dream, the chorus is rhythmic whilst still ravaging and powerful. The song gives its audience exactly what they need in the face of fear; a reason NOT to be. Take that chance. Take that risk. No matter what little tickle of being afraid that may still linger in the back of your mind, there is always a way to overcome it. You must strive to do so.
“Unconditional” speaks to a love which is anything but (if existent at all). Subject matter which is familiar to many, the song seems to touch on you having that someone in your life who can barely ever begin to imagine what their existence might be like without you, but your feelings towards them differ greatly. You know deep down that no matter what this person (or you) does to try and create that which is not there, it will always end up being just that. This feeling begins to take its hold and constrict the ever living piss right out of you, until you feel like you might explode. You know this isn’t fair to the other individual, but they just won’t let go. This song above almost all others on the album, truly exemplifies the dynamic range and defining characteristics of Mike Garrow. Whether it be the soothing softer side of his singing, or the perfect raspiness which he adds to give some of those higher notes some added edge, this track portrays the full gamut. All melodic and heavy at once, this song is sure to give you that cathartic rock’n’roll.
Probably one of the more surprising tracks on the album is “Taken”. An acoustic and harmonious melody, perfectly matched with the saddest lyrics and a voice full of longing. Through all of the other ground stomping, heavy hitters on Barely Alive, Savage Hands show they are quite far from a jack of all trades, but master of none. Many bands which are normally considered to be on the more aggressive side of the musical spectrum eventually foray into an acoustic track or two. Many of whom come across looking as if their songs were forced and arbitrary, and totally out of place. Savage Hands took that notion and squashed it with one fell swoop. The song is so powerful it’s as if it is teeming with almost tangible emotion. At it’s ending, you’re left with a haunting feeling of sadness, yet happy at the fact that one simple song could touch you in such a way with it’s beautifuly honest lyrics, and it’s wondrous sounds.
One could easily assume that when releasing any form of art for the first time, it must be a painstakingly nerve wracking feeling for whomever created it. You put all of your time, all of yourself into what you hope will reach and be enjoyed by your target audience. Well, Savage Hands have summed up perfectly what they hope the world to perceive with Barely Alive. The album is short, but lacks no punch. Full of a raw intensity from beginning to end, each track tells its own story through words and sound. The group incorporates elements of hard rock, post hardcore, and metalcore to formulate what will only be considered by many to be one of the strongest debuts to hit the scene in a long time. From a worldly perspective, many may have not known of this band before, but assuredly the world many times over will be singing along to their tunes for many years to come.