Close Your Eyes is a melodic/post-hardcore/rock/punk band from Abilene Texas. That’s a mix of genres! They are rising in the scene of what ever specific genre you call them. Their first studio album We Will Overcome gained the band success along with touring with A Day To Remember in 2010. With that, they went right back in the studio to deliver their sophomore effort of their highly energetic and slightly uplifting music. That effort is titled Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts.
Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts starts out very energetic with Hope Slips Away (The World Is Ours To Change). Showing their punk-esque roots with very catchy vocal hooks which is my attention grab to their music. Empty Hands is of the same caliber styled song, but the vocals are even better. Most of the album is fairly fast paced and up beat, but songs like Wormwood slow it down a few beats, only to be whipped back into the faster pace on the next track.
The album as a whole is very solid. It seems seamless in its content and pure energy and expression put out by, mainly, lead singer Shane Raymond. I could compare the band’s style to some elements of Rise Against, Emarosa, and Every Time I Die. They feel as a combination of those bands, but with some strong Christian beliefs backing them. But they don’t preach it, by any means.
The band has their shit together for the most part. Tom Friesen on drums; he keeps on time and holds the fast up tempo beat. Sonny Vega plays the bass just fine, even getting parts where he gets to shine away from guitarists Brett Callaway and Andrew Rodriguez. Though there wasn’t much from him to outshine. The guitars were just a gritty/overdriven blur of chords that didn’t have much expression with anything else.
To me though, it seems the power chain of this band lies in the vocals. Not just Raymond’s Johnny Craig mirrored cadence, but his screams are piercing and convincing and Callaway/Rodriguez’s back up vocals bring out Raymond’s voice even more. They do throw in some well placed gang vocals. In my experience with gang vocals, its always horribly placed and doesn’t fit the song (i.e., a crappy produced hardcore track).
This kind of music, though I don’t casually listen to it, has the ability to grab my attention and focus on vocal elements not usually found in these certain styles. I give a bow to these fellows who show there are ones who can give their all with singing and manage to pull a sick scream here or there.
All in all, Close Your Eyes does a fantastic job delivering their sophomore album. There are still elements that they seemed to be missing, mainly lacking in guitars. But as I have said, their vocals are excellent. Once they can figure out how to bring in more of the guitars, whether its just a catchy riff or more clean guitar, they can make some truly great music. But for now, it balances out to an average effort. Though they bring an energetic and rather positive approach, it doesn’t make much of an impact.
Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts – 7/10
1. Hope Slips Away (The World Is Ours To Change)
2. Empty Hands
6. Paper Thin
8. Keep the Lights On
9. Carry You
12. Heavy Hearts
Favorite Song: Carry You
Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts is available now via Victory Records