Steady Hands - The Earth Will Eat Today EP
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: December 25, 2011
Steady Hands’ Bandcamp sums up their debut EP The Earth Will Eat Today as “a summation of the entire first year of our career”, leaving us with a bit to wonder in what such a young band might have in store for us. Channeling a vein of post-hardcore reminiscent of the recently resurrected Verse, the Rockford, IL-based band teeters a line dividing abrasive melodies and wall-of-sound dynamic songwriting that is certainly intriguing and at times properly executed, yet often sticks to a formula and does little to stray from it. The Earth Will Eat Today might not be entirely fresh or executed to perfection, but Steady Hands definitely have a bright path ahead of them if they can tweak their imperfections as they continue to grow as a band.
Opener “Tried and True” blasts out of the gate with a familiar drum pattern backing the manic vocals and tsunami of guitars, shedding the bombastic sound for sparse melodies before kicking the track into high gear for a guitar-slathered chorus. The rhythmic tweaking of the ensuing breakdown makes for a slightly jarring shift in the track, yet it is executed with little hesitation. Building a leniency for dynamics in huge guitars and slightly ambient guitars in the first act, “Lone Wolf” shows a more aggressive Steady Hands at work, harnessing up-tempo drumming to match an upbeat guitar attack laced with searing melodies. The formula seems similar to the previous track in terms of the addition and subtraction of instruments depending on the section, as the droning guitar leads anchor a massive, yet flat sounding ending. Vocally, we get a buzzing combination of shouts and screams as this track is ripe with in-your-face, albeit somewhat unwavering vocal delivery. The emotion is there, but with a practically one-dimensional delivery, it makes the often interesting vocals here a bit tough to truly enjoy even as the music shifts in different directions.
“Champion” starts off in a lackluster fashion, but leaves the pulsing introduction for a vocally-led, tension-filled verse that is sparked by interesting drumming and well-placed bass lines. The middle track of the bunch features a plethora of guitar work that could help spark other tracks as a underlying accompaniment to the band’s often colossal sound, as the slower feel of this track benefits from the moments where the structure and songwriting breakaway from the often relied upon formula of laid-back drumming behind a strummed out chorus. The slower sections also venture vocally into much more compelling territory, as the pulled back approach for less abrasion as points makes for a nice break in the action and only adds to the overall feel of the track. Yet at this point, even the off-beat hits kicking us into “Absent Without Leave” are a welcome departure, as the guitars could certainly use a little more to get our attention throughout this track.
“Taps” ends the EP on an welcoming, yet particular note. Much in the vein of “Champion” with a slower vibe centered around less prominent guitars – at least at first – a solemn, yet simple snare drum beat helps build the tension towards an unseen shift into uptempo drums that gives off a bit of a Pianos Become the Teeth vibe. In a wall of sound the EP ends on the release of emotion built through the previous three minutes of this track, leaving us with arguably the best track of the bunch.
It wouldn’t make sense for this EP to be perfect, but buried between the moments of safeness and familiarity, there is a sense of hopeful, yet carefully constructed music to be taken away from this. If Steady Hands can continue to challenge themselves as we hear them do in a few spots on The Earth Will Eat Today, expect them to start turning the heads of Wave kids, and others, in the near future.
First off, holy crap Jason do we ever have similar writing styles. The only thing I can really pick at with this is that as I was reading I didn't notice much critique and the whole thing felt a little too much like a narrative. I'm guilty of this too sometimes though, haha.
the thing is this band really doesn't sound anything like Verse. I think that's what they've billed themselves as but they sound more to me like an intelligent scene band without the high pitched cleans. It's alright but I find it monotonous.