Idle Hands may have only officially formed last fall, but with ex-Spellcaster bassist Gabriel Franco at the helm alongside several of his previous bandmates you wouldn’t be able to guess it due to the quality of their debut EP Don’t Waste Your Time. Where Franco’s previous band emphasized a considerable amount of 80’s speed and heavy metal, Idle Hands heads in a surprisingly different direction. There’s still plenty of 80’s heavy metal influence to be found, but the darker melodies and pacing of the songs give off just as much of a gothic rock and straight up hard rock feel. It flies by quickly at just under twenty minutes, but the quality of the writing warrant repeat spins and make this one of the more promising newcomers in recent memory.
One of the elements that immediately jumps out on Don’t Waste Your Time is Franco’s singing. He has a naturally lower pitch that gives off a distinctive gothic and hard rock influence, but during the chorus lines the singing projects outwards towards some slightly higher ranges that fill out the sound. Where some vocalists that have this type of voice come across as one-dimensional, you can tell that Franco has a bit more to work with and he delivers a performance that’s somber but filled with melodic hooks that pull you in. On “Blade and the Will” and “By Way of Kingdom” there some shouts that sound pretty damn close to Jaz Coleman from Killing Joke which is also quite appealing, and it’d be interesting to see if Idle Hands explores some of those influences further by the time a full length comes around.
The singing makes a strong first impression, but the instrumentals have plenty of substance to back it up. Idle Hands often blurs the lines between heavy metal and gothic rock with some healthy doses of post punk and AOR to back it up. Opener “Blade and the Will” is a great example of how the band seamlessly merges these elements, as the guitar leads hang over the recording with an airier, melancholic tone that put the listener into an introspective mood before high energy heavy metal riffs jolt them back to attention. Killing Joke and The Sisters of Mercy play some clear influences, particularly on some of the gloomier melodies on display throughout the EP, but it’s the transitions into the twin-guitar leads and high-flying metal riffs that make this material stand out. The two styles complement each other perfectly and there are definite hooks that will still be in your head after you’ve stopped listening. My only complaint is that with the songs often exploring similar tempos there are some passages that blur together slightly, which isn’t an issue on a release this short but could become one on a full length.
This EP snuck in under my radar, and if you’re a fan of the aforementioned bands along with a healthy dose of NWOBHM and 80’s hard rock Idle Hands is worth seeking out. Gabriel Franco and crew have nailed the intersection between darker power ballads and gloomy gothic rock/post punk that’s sure to remind listeners of a number of different bands without falling too closely to one formula. With a full length set for next year I’ll be interested to see if they can blur the lines between these styles even further, but in the meantime Don’t Waste Your Time will be on my playlist for some time.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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