Listening to my playlist Spotify generated for me, I came across a song I hadn’t heard before. I looked at my phone and saw it was “Red” from Savage Hands’s album Barely Alive. The album was produced by SharpTone Records and released on March 2, 2018. This was the debut album from the Maryland based post-hardcore band.
Barely Alive opens with “Red”, coming in with heavy drums and guitars but gets a little softer in the verse. The soft verse is a good choice because the song gets continuously heavier from there. You can feel the anger in this song from the first line, “I can’t stand the sight of you anymore.” It continues to build through the song with the instruments growing heavier to match.
The next song, the title track “Barely Alive”, is similar to “Red” in the way it opens. It starts off with a heavy intro with a calmer verse but when it gets to the pre-chorus vocalist Mike Garrow lets out some screams that create a nice transition to the chorus. My favorite part of the song is the transition between the second verse and the bridge. That’s guaranteed to start a mosh!
“Unconditional” seems like it might be a song about unconditional love but it’s about the exact opposite. That’s displayed throughout the song but especially in the chorus when Garrow sings “I’m growing sick and tired of hanging from your noose. This all just seems so far from unconditional”. The song starts off with Garrow singing with a softer tone but makes his voice raspy in the chorus. Also, this is the first song to include a guitar solo.
In “Know It All”, Savage Hands starts a little differently than they did with the previous song. They don’t keep the verses soft. Garrow mixes harder clean vocals with screams then transitions to a raspy sound in the chorus. This song is fast paced throughout the song with heavy drums with a snare drum hit on every beat in the verses. The lyrics tell of someone wanting the worst for him and how he cant wait to burn that bridge. This is especially evident in the last two lines of the second verse “The bitterness, I begin to feel it, And your last breath, what I’d give to see it”.
The next song, “Taken”, may take you by surprise (pardon the pun). The acoustic track is has stark contract to the rest of the album. The acoustic guitar gives a good contrast to the Garrow’s rough voice. When I first heard the acoustic guitar I didn’t know if they were going to be able to pull it off. Some post-hardcore bands try to do acoustic tracks but play them as if they were playing one of their normal tracks but there are certain nuances that bands miss when they do that. Savage Hands pulled this one off well with the music complimenting the emotion in the lyrics.
The second to last song, “Dream Dead”, has lyrics that may resonate with a lot of us, at least at certain points in our lives. It’s about someone being stuck inside their own head and just going through the motions. The verse builds up the the end of the chorus then drops back down to build up again. The bridge builds up to the chorus to end the song. This song effectively made use of raising and lowering the intensity in the appropriate sections.
The last song, “Your Own Hell”, ends the album with a bang. The song is fast paced throughout and has a killer guitar solo. “Your Own Hell” is about him wanting to ease someone’s pain but the person won’t tell him what’s wrong. One of the more emotional lines is where he sings “I’m not sure what to say and I’m spitting out the words that I wish I’d swallow” in the chorus. The musicians get their time to shine in this song like the drums in the bridge and the guitar solo between the last two choruses. This song was an appropriate way to end the album because it will keep Savage Hands on your mind.
This album was a good debut album for Savage Hands, not too long so you can comfortably listen to it in one sitting while keeping you wanting more. Overall I give Barely Alive a 9/10. I know that’s a lot but I honestly think it deserves it. The music and lyrics are on point.
If you want to check them out, the whole album is on Spotify. If you like what you hear, we encourage you to support them. A few of their song have explicit lyrics so listen before you buy if that offends you.
See you next week,
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