hAND Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the third album by progressive metalers hAND, and will be backed up by extensive touring. Here at Room Thirteen, we think this album deserves to bring this fine band to wider attention, in both the prog and metal worlds.

Level One opens the album, and sets out in very confident fashion their progressive metal stall. Intriguingly, when the vocals come in there are clear echoes of prog gods Yes, and there is no higher complement! Some of the instrumental passages, particularly those which are keyboard led, also have the feel of eighties new wave art rock band Japan, reflecting the great playing of now permanent synth player, Tom Johnstone.

Windlestraw begins with the natural and lulling sounds of the sea lapping on the shore, only to be interrupted by a sharp metallic riff, before segueing into a beautiful and gentle vocal by bassist and pianist Kat Ward. The song goes through several changes of pace and mood, with some great ensemble playing by the band, though Dan Thomas's drumming deserves special mention here. He covers the whole kit, creating some complex and wonderous percussive rhythms and accents.

Anthem has some great prog twists and turns with some very distinctive musical sections, including a too short fabulous interlude with funk styled guitar, and the band sounding like a souped up Gang of Four, in their legendary industrial funk days. A storming three-song opener to this fine album.

Amazing Burn, with its gentle piano accompaniment has a lovely almost fragile vocal, with the full band coming in at intuitive moments in the song, to take it to even higher level of emotion. The lengthy and completely sublime Through The Big Door, Up The Stairs And Out is the most ambitious track on the album, and shows the potential of this band to be something really very special. Beginning with a taut acoustic riff, joined by an electric guitar overlay, and Kat's fabulously atmospheric and breathy vocals, it heads into an astonishingly inventive instrumental section. Here beautiful melodies are underpinned by a rhythm section on fire, with bass and drums playing like lead instruments. There is a lot of feeling in the playing too, which feels incredibly moving, especially the guitar work of Kieran Johnstone, which is very expressive, almost spiritual in tone.

This is a great album even on a first listen, and with each repeated listen, the intricate musicality, and emotional resonances the band conjure up, become even more impressive. Look out for both the album and tour, and you will soon fall in love with this excellent band!