Close Your Eyes, Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts

Close Your Eyes, Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts

Back when I was first introduced to hardcore, one of the most crucial elements of the scene — one of the things that most set it apart from what felt like a big, muddy puddle of emotionless, purposeless rock or punk — was the focus on making things better. Listening to those early hardcore bands, I was struck by the positive message, the whole we’re-all-in-it-together vibe.

Honestly, hearing it was like having my head dunked in freezing-cold water. I’d been surrounded for so long by music that was mostly about partying, getting the girl, and other seemingly unimportant crap. And here, suddenly, was music about belonging, about finding yourself, about being better as a human fucking being. There was no stupid, fake shit about doing stuff a small-town Army brat like myself was likely to never, ever do; it was about being a kid, alone and unsure, and fighting on regardless. Best of all, it was fiery and raw and loud, screaming itself into your ears. It was monumental, at least to me.

Unfortunately, the intervening decade hasn’t been kind to hardcore. Somewhere along the way things got diverted, taken over by meatheaded idiots more interested in fighting and being tough than in any of the elements of the music that had drawn me in in the first place. So I shrugged and turned away, for the most part, and found something new to listen to elsewhere.

This is all to explain why Close Your Eyes’ Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts feels like a homecoming for me. Despite a somewhat modernized sound, the band hews close to those same hardcore roots that initially blew me away, searching and questioning and yelling out in an attempt to force a change, one that’s hopefully for the better.

It doesn’t hurt, obviously, that Close Your Eyes know their way around an Avail-sized hook, particularly on tracks like “Valleys” or “Empty Hands,” where vocalist Shane Raymond throws a fist in the air and carves out a surprisingly gorgeous melody amidst the raging, sharp-edged, pummeling guitars. Raymond can scream, too, as on furious protest song “Injustice” or the thundering, stomping “Hope Slips Away (The World Is Ours to Change).”

The band’s no one-trick pony, either, ably shifting from straight-up hardcore to speeding metalcore to more thoughtful, post-emo rock — see “Wormwood,” which could almost be a Deftones track if you squint a little, or “Heavy Hearts,” which is kin to a lot of emo-ish heavy rock I’ve heard lately. The latter, by the by, is probably the most outright showcasing of the band’s beliefs — it’s a fairly specifically “Christian” track, but at the same time, it’s good-hearted and straightforward enough that even a heathen like me can like it.

Throughout, Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts is ferocious and uncertain and defiant, refusing to back down for a single second but never taking a damn thing for granted or claiming to have all the answers; it’s intelligent, impassioned music that’ll make you bang your head and scream along but prod you into thinking about your life at the same time. Damn, I’ve missed that.

(Victory Records -- 346 North Justine Street, 5th Floor, Chicago, IL. 60607;; Close Your Eyes --; Close Your Eyes (Myspace) --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Friday, January 6th, 2012. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Close Your Eyes, Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: The Eastern Sea (Rev’d!) + Young Mammals + Belle Manoir + Fat Tony + Close Your Eyes + More on July 6th, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    […] pegged ‘em as just another cookie-cutter Christian post-hardcore band, but last year’s Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts blew me away with its hold-tight-to-your-ideals positivity and strength, the kind of thing […]

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