Album

Touching Base with a Chainsaw

Blogcritics.org review by Gray Huntter, posted 11-10-07
(http://blogcritics.org/archives/2007/11/10/222824.php)

Touching Base With A Chainsaw is the debut from the San Diego band Of Hearts and Shadows. They’ve got a hardcore/screamo sound and a lot of intensity.

What makes Of Hearts and Shadows stand out from other hardcore/screamo bands? They are mature musically. The guitar is not just a horrific crunch throughout the songs. Vasquez and Archer explore other sonic pathways, making the songs very melodic for such a raw band. In fact, it has a very alternative metal sound.

Williams has an outstanding sense of groove. He inserts well-placed fills and shows an adroit touch on the cymbals, while keeping the aggressive bass power. Like the guitars, the rhythm section is not just standard metal.

The vocals alternate between singing and screaming. Bixby’s singing seems more suited to the alternative or punk genre, but his screams are throaty and raw. In fact, he’s got a good growl for a horror movie monster. However, his screeching does mangle the lyrics of some songs thus detracting from them.

The band’s songwriting seems to lack the depth and maturity it has musically. Some of the lyrics feel cliché or, at least, very familiar. Once their songwriting catches up to their music, they should be something of a powerhouse. Already they show a balance between melody and metal.

My favorite tracks:

“Some Call It Experience, We Call It Justification.” Cool drumming - excellent rolls, lots of crashing cymbals. The vocals seem to mesh well throughout the song.

“Pull the Trigger.” It contains atmospheric guitar work and also displays solid pacing. It’s got heavy riffs, powerful drums and marches from moving to menacing.

“Two Years Later.” This is a piano instrumental that fits surprisingly well. The last track, “Aldernaun” features much less of the screaming. It’s a more mellow side of the group until the last minute or so when they launch into brutality once more.

Of Hearts and Shadows is a young band with focus. Touching Base With A Chainsaw is a worthy debut.

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