Open Hand - The Dream (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Open Hand

The Dream (2003)


I started Open Hand myself and made demos and we decided to go full time, because for me personally, I was way more into what we were playing as Open Hand. Sure, I am into hardcore, but Peter Gabriel is my number one favorite and I wanted to go in that direction.
- from the Open Hand bio

I can honestly say that I've never thought to myself: "Man, I wish someone would mix up some Peter Gabriel into this hardcore." I mean, the thought has never even crossed my mind. I guess I'm just odd that way.

But, since I didn't want a repeat of what happens when a reviewer writes about something where he hasn't researched the bands entire back catalog, B-sides and songs they only played live in 1985, I decided to do some research on Peter Gabriel.

Step One: Find Peter Gabriel Music

I went on the internet, because apparently, there is a ton of music out there, just for the taking as long as you "remove it within 24 hours," though I don't think anyone enforces that. So I fired up a client, and searched for Peter Gabriel. I found quite a few songs, but I couldn't download most of them, so I just grabbed whichever ones seemed the most popular. Then, after I gGabriel in a hardcore band
", actually hearing the record actually forced me to abandon said plan, since it doesn't sound like that at all. It sounds more like the evolution of the kind of post-hardcore which has become so popular of late; melodic guitars, metal style breakdowns, and sad emotional vocals. In fact, the band probably has a leg up on some of the post-hardcore scene, since the members are actually former members of hardcore bands, making the post-hardcore tag both appropriate and literal.

Step Four: Actually talk about the record

This record is actually a compilation of the two previous EPs released by Open Hand, and, not surprisingly, you can actually hear the band switch from one to the other. The first five tracks come from Evolutions, and the second half comes from Radio Days. The first EP, is stellar, from the opening This Is the End, a heavy number with soaring vocals, and a pretty killer breakdown, to the album's standout Life As Is, which is one of the best representations of angst-ridden dynamics, indie rock vocals, and a wall of distortion I've ever heard. The remainder of the first five songs is powerful, intense stuff.

The second half seems to careen all over the place. Acoustic guitars, and sampled tribal chants, and sing-scream vocals. It's tolerable, but disappointing after the single minded urgency of the first half. It's really all over the place, and seems to bring back memories of most of the Braid rip-off bands that appeared after Frame and Canvas.

Step Five: Summarize it

A unique and powerful opening, and an increasingly mediocre second half makes The Dream an uneven affair. Of course, this record isn't in chronological order, and the second half of the record is mostly tracks from five years ago. The first half is truly where the band shines, and I hope it's the direction they follow for their full length. If I was reviewing the EPs alone, the first would get four stars, the second, two; So I'll split the difference and give it three.