Idle Hands – Mana (Eisenwald)Thursday, 2nd May 2019
It wasn’t all that long ago that Idle Hands dropped their first EP (summer 2018) to be precise, but they are already back at it again with their first full-length in the form of Mana. Said EP, Don’t Waste Your Time, saw the band as already abuzz with plenty of potential in their fusion of traditional/power metal gusto and gothic flavors. Mana merely extends the experience while captivating the listener even further.
Mana is sharpened by its relatively brief runtime and varied styles that it possesses over the course of the album. The gothic/traditional combo tends to lean in one direction or another depending on track, which gives some wiggle room between some straight-up rockers and some gloomy (yet still quite catchy) numbers – and variations in between. “Cosmic Overdrive” sits firmly on the ‘banger side of the equation, with a rousing chorus that’ll make you want to crank the music loud and shout along, as will “Nightfall,” and “Give Me to the Night.” Some authentic ‘80s flair, from the guitarwork to the anthemic choruses really drive those tracks to the next level, but they never feel like they are being used in only a retro fashion. Some songs at the other end of the spectrum include the poignant ‘raise the lighters’ power of “A Single Solemn Rose,” the solemn reminiscence of mid-tempo chugger “Jackie,” and the dark and sincere approach of “Don’t Waste Your Time.” But no matter the approach, each track is strung together by an excess of addictive riffing and hook-riddled vocals. Even tracks that seem like they shouldn’t successfully land without some cheese attached, like power metal yearning of “Dragon, Why Do You Cry” or the driving but darkly suicidal “Double Negative, work because of their genuine song structure and narrative.
Whether it’s Gabriel Franco’s gothic-esque croons, or the triumphant NWOBHM-inspired guitarwork that seeps into each track, you are hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable listening experience for this style so far this year. Idle Hands have already managed to find a winning formula, and Mana capitalizes on all of the band’s strengths. From its unique approach to its addictive ‘just one more listen’ mentality, this should be one catching quite a bit of praise as the year progresses.