O V E R V I E W
Ok. This is it. It’s time to release the first ever; the debut LP. Should be easy enough, right?…(insert rolling eye emoji here)… You’d be hard pressed to find or attempt anything that is easy the first time, let alone the planning and process of putting something so close to your heart out into the world. The Truth in Your Eyes will be just that for the Waldorf, Maryland boys in Savage Hands. Granted that they did release an absolutely incredible EP entitled Barely Alive back in 2018, this is in fact the debut full album. An EP at times feels almost like more of simply a taste of what any band has to offer, no matter when in their career they release one, but a full album shows everything the band’s got. I was lucky enough to review the EP back in the day, and I had a strong feeling these boys had some intensely driven and emotional music to offer, and The Truth in Your Eyes has far exceeded any expectations that I, and I’m sure many others would have had. To say that I can feel the band has poured each and every aspect of themselves into each and every detail would be a vast understatement. You want to kick over some lamps while you start a circle pit in your very own living room? Consider every bulb shattered. Want to sit in front of your window staring out into the world on a dark, drizzly, rainy day and cry just like the clouds? Well my friend, prepare to have some sore and dry eyes then. And if you’re just looking for some top tier raging bangers to break the speed limit in your Dodge Neon with, then yes. You’re set. I think first and foremost what stood out to me with this album is the fact that the group refused to pigeonhole themselves into strictly one category of rock or metal. They seamlessly combine a healthy mix of alternative, core, and a dash of old-school straight up rock’n’roll for good measure. This simple, yet important point more than helps the album from becoming anything but boring or plain. One other small thing, that I absolutely LOVED is that this album has a full eleven SONGS! NO INTERLUDES! This is a rarity it seems in this day and age. Almost every band attempts an intro, outro, or some oddly placed minute and a half track full of odd noises and exerts of narration from some movie they believe has some significant correlation with the album and that it’s some wonderful idea. Half the time though, this actually just upsets the overall flow of the album and feels like a placeholder for the band to release any unreleased tracks on a B-sides EP or ‘deluxe’ version of the album later on (or simply that they ran out of ideas and didn’t want to album to feel too short). Again, I know this is something so small, but to me it helps to make the album even greater.
F L O W / L O N G E V I T Y / O R I G I N A L I T Y
There is a critical recipe to begin with when initiating what will help the overall feel of flow when creating an album, and that girls and boys is the opening track. Savage Hands came out a-swingin’ with their first song (and initial single) on The Truth in Your Eyes, “Memory”. The introductory consistent guitar plucking which is followed by a head bopping drumbeat brings you to a hard-hitting attack of instrumentals and group chants. I mean, talk about getting the listener pumped off the bat (which ultimately is the point)! This truly helps to set up the tone for the rest of the album and gets the listener ready to listen to all else it has to offer. As previously stated, the band has truly diversified themselves in multiple facets of the rock and core world, which not surprisingly adds to the progression between each song. You go from one lit track to the next bangin’ tune, then right around the middle of the album (“Rotten Soul” and “Washed Away”), you’re offered a bit of breather with two of the softer beginnings to any given tracks (yet this is merely to create buildup to some heavier touches later on in the songs) on the album. Now there have been times where this placement would have felt like an odd choice, but due to the fact that both songs actually do ramp up in speed and ‘heaviness’ if you will, they feel anything but out of place in the song structure. But flow isn’t just about where songs are placed or how they move into one another. Flow is also about the listenability (you heard that word much lately?). I won’t bet too many dead horses throughout this review (hopefully), but as I have said before the group definitely prepared, outlined, and planned all details in all avenues of this album. The bass lines are played right along with the guitar when simply needed as that extra backbone to the fire, but also stand out a bit more when meant as that groovy forefront. The drumming can be rhythmic or erratic depending on what the moment calls for (and they do exactly what the moment calls for). The singing is hushed when paired with the more somber sounds, yet if the roof is a raddlin’ it’s due in part to the blistering, glass shattering screams. I wouldn’t call the flow Zen-like, but it’s gonna put a hard rockin’ smile on that face of yours, simply because it feels so damn right.
Now I don’t know about all of you music fans out there, but I’m finding it harder and harder these days to find music that completely holds my attention for a few weeks, let alone something I KNOW I’ll go back to years down the road. That’s not to say there isn’t a metric fuck-ton of tunage that I’m not totally digging, it’s just that I get bored and wonder what’s next on the docket that I’ll inevitably get bored of. Now I am tooting zero horns when I say The Truth in Your Eyes has some incredibly powerful stay power. I haven’t even had this review copy for very long and yet I cannot stop listening to it, and I can feel it in my core of cores this will be an album that I will not get sick of. It’s all about diversity, diversity, diversity (that horse truly is getting flattened, isn’t it?). It’s the quality of music as well. Listen, I’m not trying to say that this album is something entirely new or different, but I’m getting a little tired of people always saying ‘boo-hoo, this isn’t the most ground-breaking, revolutionary, never been done before album so it’s poop’, and if I hear someone use the word ‘generic’ when it comes to describing anything in music again then they’re gonna get a slap. My point is there comes a time when for one, there won’t be much else to do cause so much has already been done and two, when did something NEED to be ‘ground-breaking’ to be absolutely phenomenal and enjoyable? This music has quality in spades! The musicianship, the lyrics…it all just feels so well done. That’s what’s important, and that’s why The Truth in Your Eyes will be one of that fantastic albums you’ll be showing your future kids.
(DUDE, THAT HORSE ISN’T JUST DEAD, IT’S A BLODDY PULP!!) No. This album isn’t a rock or core one that hasn’t been done before in shape or form, BUT it’s a Savage Hands album through and through, and it’s all their own. There wasn’t on point where I said to myself that this could be anyone else. So yes, it is original to them and on my personal scoreboard that counts as original enough. Perhaps it’s the fact that before this album we didn’t really hear a whole lot from Savage Hands but maybe that’s what helps at this point in time in their career. A song like “Rotten Soul” has an almost R&B (yet done in a rad haunting sort of manner) intro. Between the undertones, the style of soft drumming, and vocalist Mike Garrow’s soothing choice in how he sings his powerful words it really gives it that feel. And yet later on in the track there’s a ballistic bridge which almost makes you forget the song had such a delicate beginning. I must admit this the starting moments of the song through me for a bit of a loop due to the song title, but me also thinks this actually helps to add to the overall originality that this band can produce.
SavageHands #Memory #TheTruthInYourEyes Purchase, Stream here: https://shrptn.co/savagehands Website, Tour Dates: https://www.savagehands.net The debut album “The Truth In Your Eyes” – January 31st.
V O C A L S / I N S T R U M E N T A T I O N
Ok, I know I said that at no point did anything about this album make me think or feel it could be anyone else, and I honestly stand by that, but if I may make one light comparison it would be in the vocals (and I HOPE it comes across as a compliment and a great thing, because it definitely is to me!). Maybe it’s just me, but I hear a little Telle Smith in Mike Garrow’s sound. I am NOT saying you couldn’t pick them apart in a blind listening test (because that would be grossly false), but just some of the pitches and tones. I for one love this though. It’s only subtle, and Mike absolutely has some unique qualities that are all his own. But just a cool little listening tidbit. Now to the real meat of this portion of the review; Mike Garrow has some goddamn range, man! This was definitely showcased on the EP, but this dude put in some serious work in expanding what he’s capable of. From the smoother and (honestly) velvety singing heard on the verses of a song like “Washed Away” to the bloodcurdling screams heard on a track like “Lonely”, the man seems to have very little to no limits. This fundamentally is the concrete foundation in which this musical house is built on. It more than helps to create the feel and flow of the album as a whole.
The instrumentation on The Truth in Your Eyes is a wild ride. Albeit not the most intricate or complex, it still feels fresh, creative, and even (can I do it…?) savage at times. An obviously big part of the instrumentation on any album is keeping the listeners interest. And I assure you there wasn’t one moment where any of it felt stale or boring. It also has to create a feel or emotion at times without any words being sung, and at all times it executes this exquisitely. Before a single word is sung on “Bloodshot” you already feel a sense of rage, aggression, and a fiery vehemence that will not be contained. Whereas on “Never Change” within the first few seconds you sense a longing and sense of urgency that later becomes even clearer through the words. Justin Hein, Nathan O’brien, Jayvon Green, and Alex Gacek all knew damn well what they were doing, and it’s paid off substantially.
C O M P O S I T I O N / P R O D U C T I O N
When creating a song, one doesn’t simply lay down a guitar riff, throw in a little bass and drums, and then sing over all of that (Right, Ned Stark?). You add layer upon layer, element upon aspect to create what will become the final product. You want to create an experience as opposed to just a ‘song’. Savage Hands kept this in mind front to back on The Truth in Your Eyes. This can be heard on every single song, but some prime examples would be on songs like “Demon” where during the verse it almost sounds as if a third guitarist was added to the roster, when more than likely it’s a programmed tone to help vary up the sounds, it’s that subtly plucked note that’s ever so slightly heard underneath all of the other instruments on the intro of “Break The Ice”, or the ambient harmonies laced into the verses of “Crazy”. It’s that the band has painstakingly payed attention to each little detail that has made for incredible composition as a whole.
The production, done by Andrew Baylis (XXI, My Enemies & I) really completes this pretty little package. Each tone and sound are rich and full. At no point were any of the instruments muddled or staticky, and the vocals were always crisp and clear. If you wanted to break down each and every layer on every song on this album you could, and that is for sure due in part to the wondrous production that was laid down. EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL. WAS. THOUGHT. OF.
SavageHands #Demon #TheTruthInYourEyes Purchase, Stream here: https://shrptn.co/savagehands Website, Tour Dates: https://www.savagehands.net The debut album “The Truth In Your Eyes” – January 31st. Video By: Eric DiCarlo Subscribe: https://smarturl.it/SharpToneRecs In a way I could see it I knew I felt this coming You believe we could fix it Another perfect painting Up on the wall They see it all Tore down the frame We’ll all go down in flames Did you think you could save me?
F I N A L T H O U G H T S
When any group releases a debut, one could only assume the main goal is to reel every single listening fan in possible. You want to grab mass attention right away and leave the fans loving it all and begging for more. But, most importantly you want to create something you’re proud of, and no matter how many releases come after, you can always look back and say, ‘hot damn we killed it right from the start’. Well, Savage Hands have more than certainly done that with their first full album, The Truth in Your Eyes. As I’ve said this record absolutely does grab you right from the very first track, and you’ll be glued all the way until the eleventh. One of the most outstanding aspects of this album is that there definitively is something for everyone who’s a fan of almost any sort of rock or core. The bangers, the slower and softer jams…they’re all there. The poignant subject matter, straight up to the ‘light that fire under your ass’ themes and topics are of no lacking. Most times when I write reviews I sit in a totally silent room. Sure, I go back to a song or two here and there to help me manifest the points and critiques I wish to convey, but to be honest all of that was already retained and I just had to keep this album on blast the entire time. It’s safe to say I dig Savage Hands and The Truth in Your Eyes immensely, and I know you will too.