THE BLACK HANDS - Electric Premier Theatre (Album)
After 10 years in the making, the debut album from Chesterfield's THE BLACK HANDS is out 17th May. Following singles 'That Ain’t the Way' and 'Straight and Narrow', they've just released their latest single from the album, 'Grape and the Grain'. All three tracks give a good impression of the album so check them out and get ready for your world to tilt on its axis.
I could talk about this band for days so please forgive the length of this review but do have a read as this is a great up and coming rootsy rock band, citing Zep, Black Crowes and Free as some of their influences, and the album is a southern-blues-rock tapestry. I couldn't in all conscience leave any of the tracks out.
'House of Cards' has an airy, almost atmospheric opening which builds to a crash of music and incredibly bluesy and passionate vocals, incessant drums and a irresistible beat. The combination of earthy vocals, soulful guitar and honky tonk keys creates a party in my head. This party continues and "life would never be the same" after the bottomless bass which mesmerises me in 'Grape and the Grain', another powerful groove and vocals full of emotion. This is a great choice for a single, lads.
'That Ain't the Way' is more bass-porn for me, accompanied by pounding drums, some lush riffs, and "Woah Yeahs" worthy of Texas rather than Derbyshire, a fabulously authentic southern sound and a truly impressive start to the album so far.
'Experienced Blues' is a two-part tale, 'Part 1' just over 2 minutes and a blues-musician masterclass with vocals that have a edge akin to early Axl. '45' is up tempo and gets your body moving with its infectious beat and impassioned vocals. There is a solid beat which makes it impossible to sit still. I work in Chesterfield and after this track I'm concerned it may be turning into a southern gangland, such is the authenticity of the southern-fried sound which is actually quite difficult to achieve but seems to come easily to this band.
'High Times (Bright Lights)' offers a lovely, slowed-down interlude mid-way through the album, the gentle strum of the guitar, the harmonica, and textured vocals which fire integrity into every line, there are some beautiful moments.
'God Loves a Trier (But He Don't Love Me)' could be the story of my life but is definitely one of my tracks of the album. The bass is in the back of my throat and the funky beat has my body itching to move in time, the crashing cymbals and catchy, repetitive riffs driving the track along. The bass and drums grumble along creating a powerful sound and the limited lyrics don't matter as it's all about the feels in this song.
'Straight and Narrow' is another one to get your ass movin'. I'm in love with the power of the bass throughout this album and this track is no different. There is a raw energy and stylish delivery to the track and the drums stand out as driving force alongside some powerhouse vocals.
'Experienced Blues (Part 2)' is full of dirty riffs and filthy licks, ably supported by the strong rhythm section again, and at 3 minutes when they ask "Are you coming with me" my whole body cries out "God, yes".
'Heavy Load' is another fantastic track which stands out for me, a lighter strum of the guitar and gentler vocals opening the song, the vocals building and drum and bass joining to add more drama as the guitar becomes more soulful. "This song is gonna set you free" - what musical wizardry is this?! That statement is actually true and I can literally feel my cares drift away as I'm lost in the music. The instrumental at around 3 minutes oozes southern charm, the music telling the tale where the vocals quieten, the strength of the song increased.
When the album comes to a close with the opening bars of 'You Gotta Move' I check my phone as I think for a second I've switched playlists and a classic Free track is up. Then the bluesy vocals kick in against the grumbling beat and I know I'm back.
This album is incandescent. I can't find another word to describe it at this time, I'm quite speechless (despite the verbal outpouring I've just done). If I had to wait 20 years and this was the outcome I would simply say 'well done, great job'. I sincerely hope that life is kind to these guys and they can raise and retain momentum with this album, which is a solid 10 out of 10 and utterly breath-taking as a debut record. Who knew Chesterfield was in Alabama?... I don't say this lightly when I say BUY THIS ALBUM. Out 17th May.
FFO: Temperance Movement, Rival Sons
House of Cards
Grape and the Grain
That Ain't the Way
Experienced Blues (part 1)
High Times (Bright Lights)
God Loves a Trier (But He Don't Love Me)
Straight and Narrow
Experienced Blues (part 2)
You Gotta Move
Andy Gannon (vocals/harp)
Daniel Riley (guitars)
Joe Hayes (bass/keys)
Ben Atkins (drums)
Check them out online:-