Cruel Hand: Lock & Key (Bridge 9 Records)
On paper, Cruel Hand seems like they should be one of my favorite bands. Mashing together the sounds of crossover, thrash and hardcore, this band produces a sonic mixture that would be akin to a Metallica and Suicidal Tendencies jam session. Unfortunately, Cruel Hand’s latest release just isn’t as attention-grabbing as one would hope for, even if the album artwork is pretty sick.
The biggest problem is that the seemingly great idea of putting all these musical influences into one sound only makes the music instantly dated. Listening to The Cro-Mags is one thing; listening to a band that sounds like The Cro-Mags is another. Cruel Hand certainly delivers exactly what they set out to, but there is a lack of ingenuity here. Each track on the album has a crushing thrash-style cadence with all the appropriate riffage, and there is no shortage of the slower tempo breakdowns necessary to give a hardcore feel. The vocals are crusty and there are touches of youth crew choruses. Now, isn’t that exactly what you expected me to write?
This album is not really bad at all; it’s just extremely mediocre. Hardcore and metal have been mixed in a million different ways by now, so it’s understandable that producing a new sound out of that combo would not be easy. However, there are bands coming out these days that are taking styles like thrash or crossover and making them sound more modern. It can be done. Cruel Hand simply managed to produce an album that would have been righteous ten years ago.