Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Album Review: Hit Reset by Random Hand

You may have heard that Keighley's ska punk heroes Random Hand have just gone on an indefinite hiatus. Before the boys left us, however, they gave us one last studio album, their fourth, called Hit Reset. To fund this album Random Hand started a pledge campaign and it went overwhelmingly well with them hitting their target in a matter of hours.

The opening song is called Day One and is actually a track that was released a little while ago for free on Random Hand's Bandcamp page. Day One is a fast paced hardcore punk song that steps slightly away from the Hands traditional sound. It's a fast and ferocious track that really gets the album off to an explosive start. Second track Death By Pitchforks is a return to the sound we all know and love. Starting out with plenty of trombone that is sure to get any pit going into a frenzy, Death By Pitchforks is a ska punk banger that would undoubtedly have been a big hit at a live Random Hand show. It's about the mob mentality of British politics and being considered wrong if your opinion is different to the masses. The third song is titled Protect & Survive. The intro of this song really makes me want to bang my head before an angry Robin Leitch shouts down the microphone and gets me really pumped up. The song itself is about looking out for yourself and the people around you because nobody else will. If I Save Your Back has a really catchy intro that would get any crowd singing instantly. It then becomes a bit of a melodic punk track, something we've not heard much from Random Hand in the past. I like that they have done some experimenting on what is most probably their final album. It's a different sound but it's still very much Random Hand.

The next song, After The Alarm, goes back to some classic Random Hand ska punk. Robin’s trombone is fast paced and takes centre stage in the intro but for me it was Joe Tilston's bass that really shines throughout the track. It really drives the tempo of the song along. Dead No Longer is the shortest song on Hit Reset and doesn't relent throughout its one minute and forty-eight seconds. I found the production on the song very interesting with the vocals never really sounding any louder than the music. This gives the song a whole new feeling of intensity. Track seven, Maybe It's A Prize, starts out with Dan Walsh's guitar and Robin’s vocals really drawing you into the song. This song goes along at a slower tempo that I'm really used to with Random Hand so it took me a few plays to really get a proper feel for it; I was constantly expecting a big, rambunctious, rowdy part that never appeared. Pack It Up really reminded me of Not A Number from Seething Is Believing. It has a similar marching style trombone intro and a fast paced ska sound before a massive chorus of "Fuck This Shit, We're Doing It Our Way." A punk rock motto if ever there was one! My favourite song on Hit Reset.

A Clean Slate is another high tempo hardcore punk rock song. Making excellent use of Joe and Dan's backing vocals it feels like words are coming from all directions and this gives the song real urgency. Random Hand are just as good at hardcore punk rock as they are at ska music, either combining them or playing them separately they are really, really good! Abide does a really good job of combining both ska and hardcore punk rock with upbeat ska music that will get a crowd skanking during the verse before flipping it in classic Random Hand style to a mosh pit inducing hardcore punk party. The penultimate song is called Shelter As A Verb and manages to make me dance from the very start. I loved the technique used during the verse where Dan's guitar and Robin's vocals are using different melodies, it makes for a very interesting sound. The whole track really showcases Dan's skill on the guitar, something that is sometimes very overlooked. The final track is As Loud As You Can and musically this track has a huge metal feel to it, really driving along with some great thumping drums by Sean Howe. Robin's trombone makes a final appearance on the album to push some extra life into an already lively track. Another cracking song!

I have some mixed feelings about Hit Reset, I think it's an incredible album that sees Joe, Robin, Sean and Dan go out on a real high. It completes a body of work they can be really proud of. But I'm also quite sad it will be a very long time untill I'll get to see any of these songs live, if I ever do. Random Hand are phenomenal on record but playing live is when they are truly at their best.

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