Making their debut onto the scene in 2018 is Savage Hands. Born from the ashes of bands in Maryland and Virginia that no longer exist, Savage Hands are all about creating tunes that will make your adrenaline rise and your blood pump hard. Members Mike Garrow, Justin Hein, Ryan Evans, Nathan O’Brien, and Johnny Melton hope to carve out a “savage” future for themselves.
Well, I’ve got my not-so-savage hands on the album, so let’s have a listen and see if they accomplished all the effects they desired to.
Powerful drums and guitars open the first song, Red, as well as the entire album, it swiftly leads into guitar riffs that hit hard but have a sweeping element to them that makes the riff almost sound electronic, the guitar riff blends nicely with the drum patterns. The vocals come in and they’re smooth, they’re energetic, harmonic and have a nice blend of higher pitched vocals and subtle vocal frying alongside screamed vocals. The song hits a bridge, where a melancholy guitar riff plays as the vocals gradually build up into an aggressive kind of “spoken word scream” and then we have a breakdown.
The titular track, Barely Alive starts with a heavy guitar riff, the drums are hard and heavy and the vocals come in and have a real sense of anger and attitude. The chorus hits and it’s full of energy, it’s fast and it gives the feeling of a sudden burst of adrenaline. The verses carry the power of the chorus back into the next one, keeping a feeling of rising tension. The bridge of the song has a lot of cool synth sounds as the vocals chant onwards to the breakdown, which hits hard and transitions back into the final chorus.
Echoed guitar and a rising drum beat ushers us into Unconditional. The vocals come in quietly and softly before crashing in alongside the rest of the instrumentals into a chorus that feels really “in your face”. The song mellows up but has spikes in its intensity as it returns to the chorus. We get another breakdown that this time leads into a short but sweet guitar solo. Here on out, the song plays out with the chorus and the vocals screaming the title.
Know It All feels almost reminiscent of a hardcore punk song. The drums and guitar take center stage as the song opens with a hard and fast intro. Vocals come in, the guitar mellows out, and the drums hit hard on repeat. The song builds up progressively before a pre-chorus, where it takes a step back before it takes a step into a strong chorus. We get a breakdown towards the end of the song as well as a chanting chorus of vocals that leads back into the chorus and closes the song.
In comes the fifth song, Taken; immediately cementing itself as the ballad of the album, this song opens with emotional, melancholic vocals over a soft acoustic guitar. The song conveys feelings of losing somebody and is able to hammer that home once the subtle electric guitar comes into it. There are two other types of vocals accompanying the song with quiet, subtle screaming in the background, and towards the end, there’s vocal frying which allows for that extra bit of passion.
Dream Dead has a lot going on: it starts with a soft guitar riff, but it has a gorgeous guitar-solo type sounds, a firm steady drum beat, chanting vocals and it builds up over its runtime. When it hits, it hits hard; and when it mellows out, it makes some very pretty segments. This song has a really good sense of balance between the heavy and the soft.
The final song, Your Own Hell starts with a kind of sorrowful vibe, before crashing in and giving us a sense of severity. The vocals come in and build up as the verse does, so when the chorus hits it turns into a kind of anthem, which is a really nice addition to this album. The screamed vocals after the chorus has real weight to them and help as they build back into the chorus. We get a guitar solo that satisfies and the song ends the album, and does so strongly and beautifully, with one of the best songs on the album.