Cruel Hand - Prying Eyes (Cover Artwork)

Cruel Hand

Prying Eyes (2008)

Bridge Nine

Despite the triple threat of releases Bridge Nine had just put out just a few weeks ago (rarities compilations from Crime in Stereo and Ruiner, plus a new full-length from Energy), what appears to be the hardest working label without comparison this year keeps on trucking with their newest release from the newest acquisition: Cruel Hand from Portland, Maine.

Those of you who might be checking out this group for the first time merely because of their label's merits will notice that Cruel Hand doesn't exactly fit in with much of the releases from Bridge Nine this year. Although three-fifths of the band also rock out in B9 labelmates Outbreak, the similarities between the groups aren't all that numerous. Cruel Hand is heavier, angrier, and play the kind of two-step mosh hardcore that runs more consistently with acts like Madball, This Is Hell and Cro-Mags.

There's really no embellishment to the Hand's sound. It's a straight-ahead powerhouse hardcore record complete with the usual trudging guitars, garbled vocals and drum beats that'll shake up your speakers and won't let up on any track. The whole album clocks in at a brisk 23 minutes, which is the perfect time frame for the band. Because of how beefed-up the record is, you're not gonna find much variety in these songs. It's a short, strong kick in the butt that'll give you the right heavy fix you're looking for.

For an added bonus to fans of the band, the production quality between Prying Eyes and their last record, Without a Pulse, has definitely improved, especially on the drum tracking. On Prying Eyes, the kit hits much harder and gives the whole recording a much more massive sound. It makes this a worthy followup to a well-recieved debut from just a year ago.

I'd recommend checking out "Life In Shambles" (which has the closest thing you'll find to a sing-along on the disc), "Begin Descension" and the dance-worthy rhythm on "Hounds," especially.