The age of enthusiasm for emo rock has wheedled down considerably,
though a few sparks remain, like Hammer No More The Fingers.
The trio's latest release, Black Shark, from Churchkey Records
shows overtones of Fall Out Boys' catchy grooves and whipping
guitar flourishes with an articulation reflective of Jimmy Eat
World. HNMTF's creations are heavily influenced by the work of
their producer J. Robbins who has produced such recording artists
as Lemuria and The Promise Ring. Sometimes it causes
the album to sound locked in a time that has passed; although what
the group does with it can galvanize rock fans.
The dance grooves of "Steam" are stylized with rippling
bass lines by lead vocalist/bassist Duncan Webster with a funky
groove reminiscent of Razorlight. The punk-inspired banging
of the drumbeats by Jeff Stickley and the booming thrusts of
guitarist Joe Hall in "Leroy" might feel familiar
to fans of bands that Robbins has shaped in the past. The accelerating
groove in "The Agency" is catchy, and the steady rhythmic
pulse of "Thunder n' Rain" is garnished in orchestral accents
by guest musician Gordon Withers on cello which adds a complementing
texture to the song. The slinky ringlets of the cello in "Fingernails"
gives the track a contemporary glare though it is tucked in the vibrating
chords of the guitar railed by the steady tribal beating of the drums.
The lyrics have a profound glint, like in "Atlas of An Eye"
as Webster describes, "In the landing of a dive / how do you
know when you've arrived? / know that you're alive / how rootless
are the twigs / that grow in every hole you dig." Other lyrics
resound with an out of body experience like in "The Visitor"
as the words paint a vivid image in the mind, "I know where you
want to go / floating up the stairs / staring at the town below /
HNMTF may not be carving out a new niche in rock music, but what
they play sounds good. The springy flusters of Joe Hall's guitar
and the vocal stretches of Duncan Webster create a soaring effect
in the tracks that gives the songs a magnetic epic rock tint. The
effect has been done before so there is nothing new here, but it
does makes the album resonate with rock fans.
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