ROTW: Mana!

This debut full-length release from intriguingly familiar-yet-fresh metallers Idle Hands (after an EP last year) has been eagerly anticipated 'round here... definitely ROTW material and maybe for some, AOTY. Heck, if you listen to Allan's Gimme Radio show By This Wax I Rule! (which he hopes you do, along with Andee's show Battleflutes And Sideways Skulls) then you already know how excited Allan is about this band.

Indeed, he probably hasn't been so stoked on a new metal band since epic metalpunk outfit Iron Dogs (now the one-man Ice War) emerged from the frozen tundra of Canada a few years back (for whatever that's worth), but while that band stayed firmly underground, he suspects that Idle Hands just might be the next big thing, seriously. The band is possessed of a certain self-assured style and swagger that's pretty convincing, their power further proven by the material on Mana.

Signed to Holland's Eisenwald, a label best known to us for black metal fare, Idle Hands aren't black metal at all. And, they're from Portland, Oregon, USA. Formed by ex-members of the now defunct trad metal band Spellcaster (a break-up that spawned another cool band as well, Silver Talon), Idle Hands are also very inspired by the '80s – but while retro in a sense, the melodic, melancholic material they play amounts to an original amalgamation of '80s heavy metal (verging on hair metal) and '80s goth/death rock as well.

Maybe not the best comparison, but we like to describe Idle Hands as sounding something like a cross between The Cure and Celtic Frost circa the latter's controversial 'glam' excursion Cold Lake (an album unfairly maligned in our opinion, it's really pretty cool!), in large part due to the style of the melodic vocals, deep and mopey, punctuated with the occasional 'huuahh!', an interjection that's become a trademark tic of the band, even more effective/amusing in the live setting, as Allan can attest. He saw 'em perform a couple months ago (on tour with Haunt) and they were utterly fantastic... and the gig he attended was only their third live show ever apparently! But they were clearly ready for some high-profile festival gigs to come their way, as they have.

Their nostalgic but still unique sound might well appeal to fans of the likes of Sweden's Ghost, or at the very least quite possibly to fans of Haunt and High Spirits. Here, check out this MTV-worthy (circa 1989!) video for one of the songs from their earlier EP Don't Waste Your Time, giving off heavy Metal Church Badlands vibes visually:

In the US, Mana is available on cd and vinyl via mailorder from Eisenwald's new US webstore.


ROTW: Dusk To Dusk / City Girls!

Berlin-based (by way of Sweden) act Maggot Heart put out the Dusk To Dusk LP of nocturnal, hard rocking death rock last year, and a debut 4-song cassette called City Girls the year before that, and now the Caligari label has just taken it upon themselves to put both excellent releases out on one compact disc (and, separately, Dusk To Dusk on cassette now also), giving us the opportunity to make 'em collectively our Record Of The Week for this week! Better late than never, right?

Maggot Heart's guitarist/vocalist/main songwriter Linnea Olsson has been involved in some fave bands of ours: Beastmilk, Grave Pleasures, and The Oath. She's aided by two ex-In Solitude guys including the drummer, who was responsible for a previous ROTW on this blog via one of his other bands, Black Salvation. In fact, Maggot Heart's addictive sound kind of blends that of Black Salvation and another ROTW we had here last year, from the band Bat Fangs.

Melancholic and melodic, the dangerous, dark post-punky vibe conjured by Olsson & co. makes for songs as hypnotically moody as they are headbangably catchy. So... if any of the bands bolded above fall into your 'cool' category, give this a spin and we expect you too will be bewitched.