A year following the release of the Don’t Waste Your Time EP, Idle Hands are back with their debut full-length Mana. Dipping into the pools of heavy metal and gothic rock, the Portland, Oregon based quartet create a steady and concise effort that draws a lot of emotion. The feeling of dim light hovers over every track, and it’s greatly thanks to the perfect balance between the metal riffs and gothic character.
The name of the game is knowing when to bring the cleaner licks forward against when to bring the heavy riffs. Typically, the more sorrowful sounding tracks will reel in cleanliness the most. “Jackie” is a good example because of how deep it seems to cut into the vocalist, and you can hear exactly how he feels. The vocals are actually rather medieval sounding, and they fit the painted image perfectly save for maybe when random grunts are thrown in.
To take this a step further, “Don’t Waste Your Time” invokes absolute hopelessness. Not only is the sadder attitude written in, but the lyrics focus on how having hope and faith is just a waste of time, as you wait to die. The echo in the production is probably how the band got this to work so well with a metal base, as others wouldn’t be able to pull it off so well. “A Single Solemn Rose” is flat out heartbreaking, but man is it ever crafted so beautifully. Clearly, some real-life experience drove a lot of the lyrical stances on Mana.
However, there are definitely some bangers that steer clear of the weeping tones and fit in better with the traditional metal acts. “Give Me To The Night” is far more uptempo than most of this disc, and goes against the grain of the emotionally driven tracks. Other surprises get thrown in as well, such as “Dragon, Why Do You Cry.” While the title may suggest some standard power metal cheese, it’s actually drenched with stellar drum patterns behind the instrumental breaks and tapers off into a poppy outro that would fit with an indie rock tune. A lot to swallow, but rest assured, it doesn’t come off awkward in the slightest.
Don’t let some of the oddities turn you away because Idle Hands have carefully erected what could go south in the wrong hands. It’s all consistent no matter which approach is taken, being just shy of perfect. It’s far more accessible than it sounds, fitting nice and snug into a dreary evening of desire for music that you can get lost in.
Mana will be released on May 10th, 2019 through Eisenwald. It can be found on CD, vinyl, and cassette on their Bandcamp page, along with the aforementioned EP.