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Hearts & Hand Grenades – 'Turning To Ashes' Album Review


1. Turning To Ashes

2. For The Weakened

3. Daggers

4. I Hide

5. Adrenaline

6. Nothing Left

7. The In Crowd

8. My Sickness

I had nothing to go on for this album before listening to it, except for the band name, and given that Hearts & Hand Grenades is a pretty good name, I was excited to get into this. And it’s certainly an album that I am glad I’ve listened to!

Hearts & Hand Grenades are a Hard Rock band whose big break seems to have come when they supported Goo Goo Dolls at a telethon, and the bassist from Goo Goo Dolls was so impressed that he invited them to record at his studios. And what I think is quite telling, is that I could feel the hand of an experienced producer on this album, but is that a good thing?

Before I get into the production stuff, let’s talk about the songs – after all, that’s what a band lives or dies on, the quality of the music. And some of these are pretty good. The opening trifecta in particular (“Turning To Ashes”, “For The Weakened” and “Daggers”) are a trio of songs that absolutely deserve their place in a playlist going forwards, but sadly the album never quite reaches these heights again. It’s a common trap with debut albums, and one that the band fall heavily into here – front load the album with three great songs, but then struggle to keep up the momentum throughout the rest of the record.

If you think back to great eight-song albums, every one has a place and feels a part of the whole, and that’s not true here. Of the eight songs, I would comfortably say that six of them feel like they belong, but the ballad-esque verses of “I Hide”, and the strange Blues/Rock hybrid in “The In Crowd” do feel a little like they came from an entirely different album.

But regardless of which song I am listening to, the production choices have an impact on me – and not in a good way. It does sound professionally produced, but by someone who is used to filing the raw edges off music to create albums for bands just like the Goo Goo Dolls etc (and this is no sleight on them, but they are a different genre, and what is good for one is not necessarily good for the other). Everything just feels dialled back and like someone’s taken a really big file to a square to try and turn it into a circle.

A particularly egregious example of this is “For The Weakened”, which feels like it should be a balls to the wall anthem, fuelled with energy and excitement – and I would imagine that it is live, but here on record it just doesn’t feel like it ever gets close to the energy levels that I imagine it can achieve in a live setting.

I must say though, I don’t think this album is bad – far from it. I may have moaned about a few things, but by and large I’ve had a great time listening to it. It is a perfectly serviceable debut album, with flashes of greatness appearing throughout, and Hearts & Hand Grenades are a band I look forward to hearing more of in the future.

Review - Michael Braunton


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