Idle Hands from Portland, Oregon, was formed in 2017 by members of the split band Spellcaster. Some of the musicians also play or played in the band Silver Talon, except of the bass player Brandon Hill. Mana is Idle Hand’s first studio album release. At the end of June 2018, the band released their first 5-Track-EP named Don’t Waste Your Time. It was released first digitally, later on as a tape, 12″ vinyl and even CD, which was quite successful. While I am writing, the band is touring through Germany, Switzerland and Austria, playing sold-out shows in small venues.
“Mana” gives us 11 tracks with a playtime of roundabout 40 minutes. The shortest (and fastest) track is “Give Me To The Night” with 2:51min, the longest track is “Jackie” with 4:11min. But what kind of music can you expect from Idle Hands. I try to call it a combination of Heavy Metal and some kind of late 80s and early 90s Goth/Wave/Death/Punk Rock. You can find parts in there that remind me of Sisters of Mercy, New Model Army, The Damned or Heroes Del Silencio. It is possible to find these bands in the singing or the bass lines and guitar melodies. Sometimes, Idle Hands break this up with a double bass part and a fast guitar riff.
The first track “Nightfall” comes along with a very aggressive bass sound in fast eighth notes and even sixteenths and some wavy guitars with just a little crunch. The refrain is very catchy, so are some other refrains on Mana and they let me think about Ghost. Not the worst reference, is it? As already mentioned, Give to the Night seems to be the fastest song on the album and stands out a little in my opinion. On the one hand, it doesn’t seem to go along with the other tracks, but on the other hand, it adds a little, special flavour to the album – especially in connection with the following “Blade and The Will” and its nice guitar solo. Both tracks together mark the Heavy Metal middle of the album in some kind of way. “A Single Solemn Rose” sounds a little like early The Cure with its nearly clean guitar lines. In my opinion, you can feel the melancholy as in the metioned bands, but in Idle Hands‘ music, there sometimes is this melancholy that becomes a kind of anger that you can hear in the voice and in the music itself. That’s quite interesting.
I think the biggest point of discussion is the voice of Gabriel Franco. You love it or hate it. With his very own timbre he gives us this special Wave/Goth/Punk/Death feeling, and his “Ughs” make it all more Metal, I guess. I personally like the influences, so I can handle and like the voice, but I can fully understand everybody who says “Ughs”, while listening to it.
I really like this album, and I’m a little sad that I won’t make it to one of their shows.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆