Remember when musicians actually gave a shit about the music they made? When artists played with heart and conviction, gave it their all, and didn’t give a damn about anything else? It’s been a while, but every now and then you catch a glimpse of real passion from a band, whether it’s locally, or nationally, that somehow manages to renew your faith in humanity – and Whip Hands, is just one of those bands.
After having seen these guys a few times out on the town, I can’t tell you how welcoming it is to witness such a passionate band absolutely rip with such fury and unbridled aggression (and to be honest, with the amount of head-banging I’ve done listening to this band I should be writing this review in a neck-brace). But that’s not to say their music is simply pure thrash, far from it — they’ve got damn good songs, filled with damn good song-writing principles, and this album is a fantastic testament to not only the DIY aesthetic that makes punk appealing, but the genuine spirit of rock and roll itself. Where countless punk bands are content with dressing the part and wailing incoherently, Whip Hands deliver dynamic songs demanding of your attention from the minute they plug in and the first ‘fuck you’ is uttered.
From beginning to end, I legitimately can’t point to a single ‘bad song’ on this album. They’re all gripping, somewhat mini-epics unto themselves. Even the 0:35 second tongue in cheek jam ‘Sleaze’ serves as a great moment of respite before the distortion soaked melancholy of ‘Mansion,’ in the overall structure of the album. It’s punk-rock, yes, but this is a band that is intimately aware of the defining artists who have come before them, and has clearly used that knowledge to cultivate a unique yet varied sound unto themselves. From the up-tempo Stooges inspired punk-rock strut of ‘Old Gold’, to the album-closing epic ‘Johnny Smith,’ each song overflows with attitude and aggression without sacrificing song-structure, hooks or melody in the slightest. There’s a progressive element, reminiscent of post-punk forefathers Television or The Wipers, with their explosive octave-driven guitar passages that help push each song a bit farther out to the edge before reeling things back in again, ultimately making for some incredibly dynamic and thrilling journeys. Overall, it’s just great music, plain and simple — no bullshit.
Perhaps the thing that’s most evident upon listening to this album is the sheer passion exuded by lead vocalist/guitarist Sterling Black, and the simple fact he and his band truly enjoy writing and playing music for music’s sake. And that’s something you just don’t hear enough of these days.