REVIEW: Heart in Hand – A Beautiful White [2014]


Artist: Heart in Hand

Album: A Beautiful White


You can feel it thud deep within your chest—a galloping steadier and stronger than the hooves of a Clydesdale. Even as the snow collects in piles at the side of the road and icicles hang down to the ground, it is warm, filling your arteries with fresh, ferocious passion. It is neither angry nor remorseful—not overbearing or absent—it simply is, and you can’t imagine it any other way. It isn’t your heart—although it does bring fresh life to a stale, floating carcass. It is Heart in Hand; more specifically, it is Heart in Hand’s third full length album, A Beautiful White. Packed with passion, energy and emotion without bounds, it is the very soundtrack to a glorious, fully-lived life. Equal levels of aggression and ambitious, amorous fervency define this as not simply the band’s strongest work yet, but one the strongest offerings of emotional hardcore the genre has had the grace of bearing.

A Beautiful White transcends modern amalgamations of musical construction—bypassing dissonant piles of thrashing chords, plodding chugs and splashy drumming—manifesting itself as a true composition. Percussionist Sam Brennan does not simply whale away at toms and cymbals—rather, he constructs poignant soundscapes with rolling, immense fills, bright cymbals and solid, sturdy patterns that serve as a stellar scaffold from which the rest of Heart in Hand’s musicians can flourish. Take, for example, “Crying Shame.” As Brennan beats away, providing a sturdy, galloping pattern, guitarists Ollie Wilson and Ed Hartwell create delicate, beautiful moments of fret-born bliss. Often times, this is the case—as Brennan, assisted by bassist Gavin Thane serves as a strong branch, while Wilson and Hartwell’s fretwork are the figurative leaves—blossoming, rising to full color and then drifting away, leaving space for the next incredible riff or spurring breakdown. Just as often as Brennan’s percussion works to counteract the ethereal drift Wilson and Hartwell provide, the two work together to create moments of staggering heaviness. “My Heart Belongs in Denmark,” or “Poison Pen Letters” are great examples of this—as the tracks favor Heart in Hand’s heavier side, and their penchant for punishing, raunchy heaviness. It’s the band’s ability to range from scenic, serene beauty to thrashy, metallic aggression that makes the music behind A Beautiful White a figurative cycle of growth and decay.

While A Beautiful White’s instrumentation is a scenic forest, laden with life and death, its vocal element is the intense, driving wind that forces itself between the floral fretwork and earthy percussion into the listener’s ears. Every song Heart in Hand write tells an emotional, immersive story that practically any listener can relate to—and it’s in large part thanks to Charlie Holmes. Let’s put it on the table—Holmes’ singing voice is far from “beautiful,” and his screams might not have the incredible diversity that seems to be a practical staple for so many bands nowadays. However, what Holmes does have is a voice packed with heartfelt emotion and lyrics that lay heavy on the listener’s head and heart alike. When he begins “My Heart Belongs in Denmark,” or when his vocals seem to waiver such that they may collapse at the climax of “Jasmine,” the listener is right there with him, completely immersed in his tales of self-loathing, love, loss and his equally incredible moments of positivity and emotional fortitude that spring from them. Holmes’ gritty, raw vocal performance perfectly fits the polished (but not polished to perfection) music that serves as his canvas—allowing the truly magnificent lines and lyrics to jump into the listener’s brain unhindered when they need to.

From its subtle beginning to its tear-inducing finale, A Beautiful White is life and death—alpha and omega, creation and destruction. Every moment of jaw-dropping beauty—moments where the listener’s heart skips a beat at the sheer poetry Heart in Hand provide—is countered with moments of ravaging, jarring heaviness that keep the listener’s blood pumping and veins engorged. Whether they occur in the same track (like “Mae,” which starts smooth but ends jagged and sharp) or seem to span the entire album (the title track’s smooth flow vs. “Never Again” and its writhing, grinding aggression), these moments spot and freckle the album like chicken pox, making each moment the next possible “best second” of the album, keeping the listener constantly engaged without leaving them feeling like they’re wasting time or effort. True—A Beautiful White is a long album and an emotional investment, but for every second the listener gives Heart in Hand, they get a lifetime of pure feeling in return—and that might just be the greatest gift a band can really give.

While they’ve always been known for their intense emotional drive and fierce instrumentation, Heart in Hand have truly outdone themselves with A Beautiful White. Every second of the album is a rollercoaster of rip-roaring energy and heart-pounding passion—a story that any fan of emotional hardcore will want to hear.



For Fans Of: Defeater, Counterparts, Heights, After Me The Flood

By: Connor Welsh