Newcastle noise merchants Safe Hands follow up 2012’s Vanity split 7″ EP with their eagerly awaited debut album “Montenegro”. And the quintet deliver everything their split tracks hinted was coming with these 12 tracks of their own brand of energetic, heavy and most importantly honest music. ffacebook.com/safehandsrock
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BLUNT Issue #119
SAFE HANDS – Montenegro
While bands of a similar ilk have carved out quite the career for themselves in the US, Australia’s (various) contributions to the world of head shaking metallic hardcore are often worshipped by a select few and largely ignored by the masses. Safe Hands, unfortunately, fall into the later category. Tucked away in Newcastle, these five rowdy, noise enthusiasts kick out the jams in a similar fashion to what we heard on earlier Every Time I Die discs, breaking up their more erratic (and dizzying) passages with brooding, down tempo moments that wouldn’t be out of place in a Norma Jean set, whom Safe Hands will of course be joining on the road this May. Montenegro is an assured, well-constructed foray into the world of full-length recordings, one that’s worth more than a few moments of your time if the above-mentioned acts float your boat.
Rating: 3.5/5 – Review by: Cameron Chambers
Kill Your Stereo
SAFE HANDS – Montenegro
The culmination of the EPs, splits and relentless touring around the country for Safe Hands is this, their debut full length ‘Montenegro.’ What better way to be sure your album is heard than having all of this hard work behind it? Couple that with the fact that record is extremely good and you will find that the platform is set for the band’s rise to power. For those who have been playing from the start you will immediately recognise the evolution of the band’s sound on opening track ‘Death In Leura (Alas)’. They seem more comfortable working with the modern elements of post-metalcore/hardcore and as following track ‘The Man Who Was A Forest’ will show you, the off kilter structures and ideas which have always had a presence in their back catalogue are out in full force on the LP. Many will more than likely be surprised in moments of this record, songs like ‘If The Accident Will’ channel structures and sounds akin to The Dillinger Escape Plan meaning the band can, and often do, go wherever they want with the songs. An album stand-out is the crushing ‘Sweet Pendulum’, a moment where the guitars actually seem heavy as opposed to the rest of the album where the band manages to create a heaviness without an overkill of distortion. There is little studio trickery, no electronic glitches before breakdowns or over-layered vocals, anything reminiscent, like the sounds in ‘Tunnel Visionary’, has been made organically. Safe Hands claim to release honest music, this record absolutely falls into that category, as the recording sounds like the band just got in a room and played, but really, really well. Another highlight is one of the softer more atmospheric moments of the record, ‘History’s Afterthought’, which changes at its half-way point into some thrashy punk rock. The closing and title track also starts off with some sullen and relaxed tones before exploding into chaos and ending with a few nice surprises which confirm Safe Hands are on a new level. CONCLUSION. ‘Montenegro’ will surprise both fans of Safe Hands and those who know nothing about them. It may be early in the year but it will be tricky for any other heavy Australian acts to top this release.
Rating: 95 – Review by: LUKEC
Ox Fanzine #107 [Germany]
SAFE HANDS – Montenegro
After the split 7 “, which was discussed in the last issue, so the first album by the Australian band is now on my desk. SAFE HANDS make quite a decent hardcore that really will appeal to anyone who likes harsh, chaotic music à la CODE ORANGE KING or THE CHARIOT. There’s a hint of mathcore that extends over the entire season. With a few tweaks, more quiet moments that serve a postige Emo rail, half an hour’s time but not more also works quite nicely, . this is mainly due to one or the other pitfalls that ensure frown again at the twelve tracks. this would be for example “Ohohohs” from the off in the opener, the almost kitschy act as the clean vocals, the embarrassing associations gives rise to (bad) Metalcore and acts just totally out of place. In the future, the band should throw these gadgets simply times overboard and concentrate on writing nasty, fast-paced songs.
Rating: 6/10 – Review By: Matin Nawabi
Chucking A Mosh
SAFE HANDS – Montenegro
For the muso amongst us, some of us ape the best bands & performers in a particular scene while some of us just generally are the better ones. While it is inevitable that the peers are acknowledged subconsciously, originality always shines through. Let’s see Safe Hands go for the win! Newcastle’s Safe Hands are going all out with their first full length ‘Montenegro’- a snarling, vicious, nasty ode to noise infused punk/ hardcore. Following on from their very well received debut EP ‘Oh The Humanity’ and a recent split 7’’ with Perth monsters Vanity, Safe Hands are here to deliver a lesson in calculated experimentation, honesty and vitriol. Setting the scene early is ‘Death In Leura (Alas)’ which opens proceedings furiously with howling vocals and an all-over-the-shop musical accompaniment working nicely with anthemic gang vocals. ‘The Man Who Was A Forest’ sees the noise-ridden experimental sound used to full effect with frantic rhythms contributing a devastating impact. Could NOT get that riff out of my head! Barely a breath is then taken with the continuation of ‘Any Port In A Storm’, ‘If The Accidental Will’ and ‘Alma Martyr’, as HUGE bass-lines and inter-twining guitar riffs weave their way through each song, with the drumming especially frantic throughout. If it all sounds like a bit of a mess- that’s because it is, in the best kind of way. Who ever wanted music that wasn’t layered or didn’t challenge anyway? ‘Sweet Pendulum’ brings the melodic riffs out to play with a hugely catchy tone that is no less savage in tone and scope. We came here for heavy, and heavy is what Safe Hands oblige with on ‘All Of My Bones Are Broken’- sure to be a live staple for the overall filthy tones it evokes- unsettling and doom-laden. ‘History’s Afterthought’ and ‘Somnambulance’ continue the HEAVY with aplomb- hugely accessible and head noddingly great. The end of the album has certainly not been stuffed with any filler or afterthought, as ‘My Very Own Vesuvius’ proves to be one of the very best on display- a killer song with a massive outro that’s destined to see revellers at a Safe Hands show soon grabbing the mic and generally getting swept up in the mayhem of it all. Not to be outdone, what will prove to be many peoples favorite on the album, last song ‘Montenegro’- ebbs and flows with a monster of an ending and guest vocals provided by none other than Jen Buxton. This juxtaposition works excellently against vocalist Ben Loutitt’s emotions laid bare approach of isolated vocals barking tales of desolation. Devastating ending to a devastatingly good album. With support slots for Converge, The Chariot and a whole slew of others in the bag, as well as a forthcoming national tour of Oz with the Almighty Norma Jean, and a South East Asia tour to show off their wares, exposure to the masses will ensure that this very, very fine release makes its way into the hearts and collections of many a heavy music lover embracing one of their own. No Bullshit- All Brilliant shit.
Rating: 27/28 Days
Rest Assured Zine
SAFE HANDS – Montenegro
Debut 12 track full length release from Newcastle’s Safe Hands that follows their recent split 7″ with Perth’s Vanity. Safe Hands take a bit of a manic metal approach to their music ala Dillenger Escape Plan, Converge or Everytime I Die. Vocals interchange between screamed and spoken and suit what is going on musically. This is a pretty top notch recording with no over the top layering or studio trickery. While the production sounds huge, it sounds believable and acheivable in any studio. While this isn’t really my favoured style of music, this is a pretty solid release and a great acheivement for Safe Hands.
SAFE HANDS – Montenegro
I could easily sum this album up in one word, Flawless. But that would leave you with a boring review and no reasoning for you to believe me. So I suppose I will do a little more. “If home is where I hang my heart I guess there’s no place like home”. The closing line of ‘Any Port In A Storm’ pretty much sums up the album. As front man Ben Louttit yell’s these words over a wall of guitars and a punch in the face drum sound, you hear a comfort and connection with this band. Through a few line up changes you can definitely hear through out ‘Montenegro’ that this is home for Safe Hands. As catchy as it heavy, ‘Montenegro’ is streets ahead of most other albums being put out in this genre. There is no monotony on this album with each song bringing as much diversity as an old wooden ship. From the heaviest guitar sounds that Safe Hands have ever created to the heartfelt lyricism of Louttit, ‘Montenegro’ would fit in well in ones cd collection along with Touche Amore, Defeater and The Chariot but still maintains to hold its own. You can slightly hear who has influenced Safe Hands but they have taken their influences and created a sound that is like no other I’ve heard. There is a sense of honesty throughout this album. Be it from the obvious comfort in the musicianship of the band and the many hours spent on creating guitar sounds to personally fit each song to Louttit’s heart on your sleeve lyrics, ‘Montenegro’ is an album you not only listen to and enjoy but it is something you find yourself experiencing at the same time. To pick an album favourite is an impossible task for me as each song holds its own with musicianship, felling and lyricism. Whilst having the ability to all be stand out tracks Safe Hands have managed to create a beautifully heavy flow throughout the album. From the punchy half time of opening track ‘Death In Leura (Alas)’ and the beautifully dizzying guitar leads in ‘Sweet Pendulum’ to the melodically haunting ‘History’s Fucking Afterthought’, Safe Hands have covered all bases whilst maintaining continuity. The journey of ‘Montenegro’ ends with the closing Title Track. 5 and a half minutes of pure honesty. Starting with dueling ambient guitars ‘Montenegro’ leads the listener into a false sense of security as you get punched in the ears with a wall of heavy guitars work and drums that not only compliment the guitar but helps create this honest monster, while Louttit yells ‘I’ve got nothing left to show but cheap tattoos, permanent bruises’, recalling his fight to get to where he wanted in life. And then once you recovered the attack of the unexpected heaviness it drops back down to a melodic chord progression. To change things up even more Safe Hands have gotten the beautifully talented Jen Buxton to lend her calming, honest voice as she sings to her mum of her tales of struggle and fight. Louttit rejoins by adding ‘ Dad I only ever wanted to make you proud but sometimes I think I could fill a book with the ways I’ve let you down.’ An apology/explanation to his father of why he is fighting for his dream. After hearing not only the story of struggle and fight throughout the closing track, but the honest, hard hitting and yet beautifully melodic album, you know that this struggle and fight will soon be over. This album doesn’t just fit in with the genre it stands above the best. After years of making foot prints in the sand of the Newcastle Music Scene, Safe Hands have now pitched their flag on top of that black mountain proving they can reach as high as the others. And once this album hits the world’s ears they better extend that mountain cause these 5 boys are going to need somewhere to stand.