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Album Review
Close Your Eyes - Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts Album Cover

Close Your Eyes - Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts

Reviewed by
7.5
Close Your Eyes - Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts
Record Label: Victory Records
Release Date: October 24, 2011
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Close Your Eyes took to heart all of the comparisons that their full length debut, We Will Overcome, drew to A Day to Remember. Perhaps not deliberately, but I believe that the association subconsciously lingered in the back of their collective minds while writing their new album, Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts. It's a largely unfounded accusation, and under different circumstances the connection would never have been made. But since they're on the same label, toured together and both employ elements of hardcore with poppy choruses in their music, it became inevitable. Close Your Eyes' new offering, however, will help distance themselves from those parallels.

Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts introduces a more refined version of the band. They're still not breaking any new ground, but they'll will draw more comparisons to melodic hardcore acts like Comeback Kid before anyone mentions "pop punk." Much of the inherent poppiness of the clean vocals is offset by the keen punk beats courtesy of new drummer Tim Friesen. There is also no obvious single choice like the first album's "Song for the Broken." That's not to say that the band has lost its accessibility; Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts has its fair share of catchy hooks. The soaring choruses beg for sing-alongs, while the plethora of gang vocals are sure to incite pile-ons.

The lyrical content is riddled with religious overtones, but it's never too overbearing for the non-Christian listener. One of the most obvious examples is the hymn-like chant of "You whisper life into my soul" in "Paper Thin." Even the secular tracks maintain a positive outlook. Between the message and the delivery, Shane Raymond's vocals come across as sincere. His voice is front and center of the mix, and deservedly so. His diverse vocals effortless shift from robust singing to brash screams, emanate emotion no matter the medium.

Despite the optimistic messages, the songs are brimming with intensity. The album is more aggressive without resorting to breakdowns for heaviness. The lack of mind-numbing chugging is refreshing; instead, the band utilizes its hardcore/punk influences to create circle pit anthems. Even the most overt "mosh part" on the album, the breakdown in "Wolves," takes a backseat to a guest spot from The Ghost Inside vocalist Jon Vigil. "Valleys," the album's first single, is perhaps the most accessible track. It's almost entirely sung cleanly, but it maintains the group's high energy. It's followed by the rapid-fire "Injustice." The poignant lyrics speak of the rising amounts of anger in a music scene originally founded on unity.

The album comes in like a lion with the barn burning opener "Hope Slips Away (The World Is Ours To Change)" but goes out like a lamb with "Heavy Hearts." While the song itself fits in with the rest, its ending makes it stand out as a closer. Raymond sings a verse in a previously unheard, gentle voice that is later accented by gang vocals, and then an ensemble of high school students sings a choir of worship to bring the album to an atypical but fitting conclusion.

Not every track stands out - "Wormwood" is too long for its own good; "Scars" is forgettable - but overall the album is consistent. Close Your Eyes have come a long way since their debut, despite it being released only a year and half prior. Their blistering, melodic hardcore assault vehemently establishes that they are not content with living in the shadow of another act, and Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts ensures that they won't have to worry about that any longer.

7.5/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 31
09:49 AM on 11/28/11
#2
cococrisp20
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Great review...I was actually thinking about writing one since no one had reviewed it yet. Your thoughts were almost the same as mine, but I was actually disappointed at the lack of variety this album had in comparison to We Will Overcome. But as you said, they clearly have distanced themselves from the ADTR comparisons, and have a true hardcore/punk identity to their music now.
11:37 AM on 11/28/11
#3
NateFoundGlory
Why do you stay till you see blood?
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Was on the fence for We Will Overcome, but damn is this album great. Good review, man.
03:36 AM on 11/29/11
#4
HanLuk
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Good review, not a fan of the band at all. I can understand the Comeback Kid comparison, but fans of Comeback Kid might be extremely disappointed with this.
07:37 AM on 11/29/11
#5
johnnyferris
Inside of your heart always
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I really love this album. "Scars" and "Carry You" aren't too special, but the rest of the album is spectacular, especially the first half and the great closer.
08:48 AM on 11/29/11
#6
atrio
It's always on my troubled mind.
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Heavy Hearts is awesome. I have been alone on this road, and my empty hands have nothing to show!
09:14 AM on 11/29/11
#7
Circa1628
Long suffering Bills fan
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I just got this yesterday. I can't wait to listen, I loved their debut!
09:17 AM on 11/29/11
#8
icynova
Love is easier made than kept!
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I feel like this was definitely a step in the right direction for them. Definitely shows a maturation from their previous work.
09:59 AM on 11/29/11
#9
pj4353
Pj Pajamas
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I thought the drum beats were so incredibly unoriginal and consistently redundant throughout the album. It seriously detracts hugely from the efforts of the other band members. I honestly could not believe how uninspired the drummer was throughout this album. If you don't know what I mean...

The following list is where the consistent "pop punk " drum beat is prevalent.

Empty Hands: 0:10
Erie: 0:02
Injustice: 0:05
Keeping the Lights On: 0:05
Carry You 0:00
Scars: 0:04

I don't know if I'm being to harsh or critical, but I personally found the songs so hard to differentiate from due to that consistent drum beat throughout most of the tracks. I understand they have a lot of pop punk influence, but that is the most overused drum beat in the scene, and it is so prevalent in this album. Apart from a select few songs or tempo changes they might as well have just recorded a drum loop off GarageBand
10:03 AM on 11/29/11
cococrisp20
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I thought the drum beats were so incredibly unoriginal and consistently redundant throughout the album. It seriously detracts hugely from the efforts of the other band members. I honestly could not believe how uninspired the drummer was throughout this album. If you don't know what I mean...

The following list is where the consistent "pop punk " drum beat is prevalent.

Empty Hands: 0:10
Erie: 0:02
Injustice: 0:05
Keeping the Lights On: 0:05
Carry You 0:00
Scars: 0:04

I don't know if I'm being to harsh or critical, but I personally found the songs so hard to differentiate from due to that consistent drum beat throughout most of the tracks. I understand they have a lot of pop punk influence, but that is the most overused drum beat in the scene, and it is so prevalent in this album. Apart from a select few songs or tempo changes they might as well have just recorded a drum loop off GarageBand
yeah, I'm with you on that, but I refer to it as the "circle pit" beat
10:03 AM on 11/29/11
Alex DiVincenzo
www.alexislegend.com
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I thought the drum beats were so incredibly unoriginal and consistently redundant throughout the album. It seriously detracts hugely from the efforts of the other band members. I honestly could not believe how uninspired the drummer was throughout this album. If you don't know what I mean...

The following list is where the consistent "pop punk " drum beat is prevalent.

Empty Hands: 0:10
Erie: 0:02
Injustice: 0:05
Keeping the Lights On: 0:05
Carry You 0:00
Scars: 0:04

I don't know if I'm being to harsh or critical, but I personally found the songs so hard to differentiate from due to that consistent drum beat throughout most of the tracks. I understand they have a lot of pop punk influence, but that is the most overused drum beat in the scene, and it is so prevalent in this album. Apart from a select few songs or tempo changes they might as well have just recorded a drum loop off GarageBand
Yeah, I mentioned the punk beat in the review. I like it - I think it adds an energy/aggression that some of the songs from the first album lacked - but I see the argument for redundancy as well.
10:06 AM on 11/29/11
Miketheunicycle
"Look mom, no hands!"
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this album is so much better than their debut, but still they have a ways to grow
10:10 AM on 11/29/11
pj4353
Pj Pajamas
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I'll agree with you on the energy. The songs are fun and definitely energetic. It is just a hard album to listen to in one sitting
10:12 AM on 11/29/11
pj4353
Pj Pajamas
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hahaa yes "circle pit beat" just about sums it up
11:32 AM on 11/29/11
makeasound
start appreciating yourself
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Great review

I need to give this a listen sooner than later. I loved We Will Overcome, and this review leads me to believe I'll enjoy this one even more.

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