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hAND Breathing album cover
3.51 | 7 ratings | 4 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Song Number B (3:54)
2. The Pier (5:54)
3. Mimicry (6:28)
4. Flee (5:18)
5. The Neon Hero (8:48)
6. Supersonic (5:41)
7. Fate Sewn On (5:03)
8. Db Blue (5:59)
9. Re-animation (5:13)

Total Time 52:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Kat Ward / Vocals, Bass
- Kieren Johnstone / Guitars
- Cris Nelson / Drums

Releases information

Femme Fatale 2011

Thanks to bonnek for the addition
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HAND Breathing ratings distribution

(7 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

HAND Breathing reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Supersonic

Hand (curiously typed hAND officially) is a relatively new band originating in Sussex, England. Originally formed as an electronic duo, the band eventually evolved into a creative and exciting blend of alternative rock, gothic metal, and doom metal with a distinct progressive overtone. The music, with the Gothic twinge lead by the singer/bassist Kat Ward, gives an exciting new dynamic to an oftentimes rather dull genre as the band's latest album, Breathless, amply displays. The melancholic tracks on the album burst with passion and drive, pushing the album to new heights of sonic enjoyment. This fantastic new release will keep most listeners tuned into the music, and I highly recommend it.

The most obvious feature of this album that stands out to me is the presence of female vocals - not a common sight in most metal, and almost unheard of in the progressive metal scene. Although many bands who utilize female vocals don't really click with me, as oftentimes they cannot match the power of the music or do not fit the feel of the composition, hAND wonderfully fuses the style of Ward's vocals with the feeling of the music, making for a very pleasant and engaging dynamic to the already impressive music. The vocal sections are mellow and laid back, which matches her vocals perfectly, and the instrumental side of the music rises up to meet the challenge with often times more complex and upbeat songwriting.

The instrumental side of the album, as I said, completes the album in the way a yin and yang is a complete circle. The vocal side is mellow and laid back, with a few exceptions, while the instrumental is heavier with more intense and "metal" roots, making the album a wonderfully dynamic composition. The music is simple and subtle, powerful yet reserved, and melancholic and uplifting. It isn't overly virtuosic, yet has enough skill and passion in it to give it punch and power. Each of the three members contributes a quintessential part to the music, which makes the music seem full and complete, which is often difficult to manage with only three instruments contributing to the music.

In the end, the music presents itself as a manifestation of the band's maturity; the song writing is complex enough as to be progressive and enjoyable yet not overcomplex, the production of the album is clean as so the album has great production yet is not slick and unlistenable, and the lyrics are enjoyable and deep enough as not to seem ambiguous. The nine tracks display an incredible amount of diversity with countless influences and atmospheres meshing as one coherent piece of music. The band has certainly done a wonderful job with this album! 4 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Breathing' - hAND (6/10)

In metal, having a female-fronted band can be a bit of a touchy and looked down upon subject. Although there are certainly quite a few wonderful exceptions to this- far too often, bands will opt to have a female front them in the hopes that the added sex appeal will help attract listeners, or sell a few more shirts. Of course, this trend results in a great deal of half- baked acts, especially in the symphonic metal realm. hAND is a UK act that seeks to break this unwelcome convention by offering an atmospheric style of metal that truly benefits by having a female at the helm. Indeed, the voice of Kat Ward is a large part of this band's sound, but thankfully, hAND is quite a bit more than a vessel for her talents as a vocalist. On the other hand, while 'Breathing' is certainly an artistically credible venture with the band's passion readily evident, it might not be quite enough to bring the female-fronted stigma tumbling down altogether.

As I have said, hAND is a very band-focused and balanced collaboration between the three members. Although Kat Ward fronts the band with her higher register voice, the guitars and drums take just as much of a chunk out of the sound. In fact, the only thing that isn't heard of much is Ward's bass, which when heard, is fairly simplistic, but generally washed out by the rest of the mix. In terms of style, the gothic metal style does seem to suit it best; melancholic riffs and doomy passages rumbling under angelic vocals make up alot of what hAND has to offer. Besides that, there are some more drawn out instrumental moments, and even sections where the band briefly experiments with strange guitar sounds and dissonance. Expect nothing quite so experimental or progressive from these guys though; although they are labelled as a progressive metal act, the band is more rooted in convention than not. This is not necessarily a deterrent to their quality as artists though, because it is clear that they are capable of writing some great ideas.

hAND are not yet experts at writing memorable melodies, but they are very good with powerful chord changes. Although this may seem trivial to some, the doomy, slower sound of the band makes these changes all the more dramatic, and the beautiful layers of guitar that Kieren Johnstone works overtop the chords may very well be the best thing that hAND has to offer. The drums here are well played and dynamic even- something that I cannot say for many metal drummers- but the production makes the drum tone sound cold and distant. Although all three musicians play with feeling, the production feels triggered and mechanical, and I have a feeling that alot of the passion that they obviously put into the music here was lost in the translation to recording.

'Breathing' is a good album, and hAND is a promising act. Although I have never been one for the gothic sound in metal, 'Breathing' does meet its mark where it counts, although there are still quite a few things that bog them down. If hAND are able to address the issues in production and sharpen their craftsmanship with melodies, it could be very interesting to see where this band goes.

Review by J-Man
3 stars With their second full-length outing, British trio hAND sets out to create an album different from your average female-fronted metal effort. Rather than opting for the standard symphonic/gothic sound where the instruments are only used to showcase the vocalist's talents, hAND instead makes a very band-oriented effort with Breathing. Kat Ward's angelic vocals, backed by strong musicianship across the board, immediately set hAND apart from your average female-fronted metal group, and their atmospheric prog metal style further distances them from the herds of "Epicas" floating around in the heavy metal world. Despite Breathing's tendency to sound a bit too conventional at times, this is a very promising effort from a band with plenty to offer.

I'd describe the music on Breathing as a cross between progressive metal, doom metal, and gothic metal. The vocals throughout the full duration and dark piano parts on "Flee" hint towards goth metal, while technical guitar passages and time signature shifts, as well as quite a few doomy riffs, set hAND apart from most gothic metal outfits. The band's unique approach to progressive metal is ultimately their strongest asset, although the musicianship is also excellent across the board. Kieren Johnstone's excellent guitar work immediately proves that hAND are much more than simply a vehicle to drive vocal melodies, and Cris Nelson's expressive drumming is also noteworthy. Kat Ward's vocals, though possibly a bit too tame for my tastes, are also excellent and it's clear that she has a great set of pipes. Her bass playing takes a bit more of a backseat on Breathing and it's generally fairly simplistic, but the music generally doesn't demand super-technical bass playing in the first place.

In terms of songwriting, hAND could still use a bit of improvement. It's apparent that the band does know how to write solid riffs - there are quite a few of those on Breathing - but the vocal melodies are often a bit monotonous and lack enough memorability to truly make this a wonderful experience. Variation within the arrangements is also kept to a minimum, and can get a bit dull towards the end of the album's playing time. It's a bit of a shame - the compositions themselves are varied and unique from one another, but the dull production and lack of instrumental variation really give the album an added edge of monotony.

Even though the melodies and arrangements could use a bit of work, Breathing's pros certainly outweigh its cons and it currently stands as a unique changeup in the prog metal world. hAND are a promising act and, with some work in the aforementioned areas, their next outing could really be something special. People looking for something different than your average female-fronted metal act should still find plenty of enjoyment from Breathing - I know I did. 3 stars are deserved for this solid and promising effort.

Review by Bonnek
4 stars Post-metal, or rather "Progressive post-punk metal" from the UK. It's not even remotely a genre but just an inadequate attempt to kick this artist in some kind of box, fitting or not.

The combination of Prog with Goth has a couple of forerunners such The Gathering, Tiamat, Katatonia or Nightingale, but none of those are technical as confident as hAND, who display a mathematical precision in the riffing and rhythm section. It sets them apart from their forerunners, and certainly miles away from the more straightforward Goth Metal of Lacuna Coil and the likes. The Gothic element is quite subtle actually, but it sure exists, in Kat's whisper shoegaze vocals, in that tiny bit of reverb on the guitars, in the preference for loud kick drums and various effects such as chorus and delay. In fact there's one classic Goth-Rock band they really remind me off, and that's All About Eve, which is probably due to Kat's vocals. But the most obvious comparison when it comes to their progressive metal influences is surely Katatonia.

These references may be helpful but they are not conclusive. This is really a very original, unique and also challenging album. The capricious style of the music took a really long time to sink in, and it has taken me about 3 months before I felt sure I was ready to finally review the album. Maybe the songs could benefit from a couple of more memorable melodies as - upon the first few listens - my attention tended to drift away by the end of the album. But eventually, this has proven to be a very strong album, be it one that will probably be discarded too quickly by many. There's always tens of other albums to check right...

This is a most welcome and original release in a metal world cluttered with copy-cats. The album would probably have been more successful if it would have had some catchy easy 'songs' instead of the relentless math-rock riff-galore that we now get, but on the other hand, it's guaranteed to be a continued discovery with each listen.

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