Hand of Doom - _Dreams of Resurrection_
(Gemini, 2002)
by: Brian Meloon (4 out of 10)
Italy has had more than its share of good but relatively-unknown bands over the years -- including Aydra, Endaymynion [CoC #13], Fiurach [#44], Gory Blister, Sync, Thy Nature, Ensoph [CoC #40, #56], and Ledel [CoC #23, #31]. So it was with understandable anticipation that I opened this disc from Italy's Hand of Doom, which was billed as "progressive death metal" by their promotion agency. And it was with increasing disappointment that I sat through its 60 minutes of sloppy, unfocused, amateur posturing. At first glance, this album appears promising: the songs are all over seven minutes, save the final instrumental. And the band's "progressive" label isn't undeserved: their music features a lot of variety, both in riff styles as well as frequency of changes. I found riffs that sounded like _ITP_-era Death, Iron Maiden, Nocturnus, and Pestilence's _Spheres_, as well as some jazzy bits, and an abundance of more standard thrash riffs. The music changes often -- sometimes after only 15-30 seconds -- so the songs don't get overly repetitive, but their flow is often disjointed. Unfortunately, the execution here is simply terrible on many levels. First, the band aren't very tight: a lot of the playing is sloppy and/or out of tune. While this is sometimes understandable because the music they're attempting is rather technical, it is still not excusable. In addition to the sloppy playing, the vocals are almost uniformly bad. There are three main styles: clean vocals, gruff/shouted vocals, and those that are somewhere in between. None of them is good. The clean vocals are often flat, such as in the embarrassing chorus to "Winter Days". The in-between styles usually sound goofy, such as some sections in "Dark Side", where the vocals are mostly shouted, but the last word of each phrase is sung in a clean style. Even the shouted vocals are sometimes bad, as the timing is off or the phrasing is awkward (how bad do you have to be to screw up shouted vocals?). But the element of this album most deserving of scorn are the guitar solos. I've never heard such amateur noodling in a supposedly professional recording. I'm very familiar with a lot of the phrasing in the solos: many parts sound exactly like the solos I used to play in 1988, after I'd been playing guitar for about a year. Most of the guitar solos are completely aimless, seemingly being played without any knowledge of the underlying music's changes or rhythmic structure. It seems the guitarists (yes, there are two of them and they're both terrible soloists) only start paying attention to the underlying music so that they know when to stop soloing. As an example, check out the first guitar solo of the album, in the song "Dark Side" starting at the 2:13 mark. It's completely out-of-tune, completely ignorant of the underlying music, and even drops out toward the end, only to dramatically recover for some generic whammy dives and horse whinnies. If this wasn't bad enough, the band seems to think that the solos are a useful addition to their songs, including at least two guitar solos in every song. Some of these are even longer than a full minute, and just drag on and on... Truth be told, there is some good music here. Of the 60 minutes on this disc, I would classify about 10 of them as good to excellent, another 20 as average, and the remaining 30 minutes as sub-par to embarrassingly awful. The bottom line is that this is an amateurish effort at making progressive death metal by musicians (and a vocalist) simply not up to the task. With better execution, their ideas would garner them perhaps an 8 out of 10, but as it stands, I can't recommend this disc to anyone.

Contact: http://www.handofdoom.it

(article published 11/4/2003)

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