Anyone lucky enough to have seen Hands Up Who Wants To Die live before their album hits the shelves will already know the ferocity of their act, and their musical accomplishments should not have gone unnoticed either. Barry Lennon’s imposing figure and stage [or floor] presence is backed by a band who, although more subdued, play a blend of raucous melodies reminiscent of The Jesus Lizard or Minor Threat.
Their debut release, Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo, is not dissimilar from their live show. It is a short sharp burst of intensity and melody tied together by Lennon’s harsh vocals and aggressive social commentary. From the moment the album kicks into gear with ‘Sailor’ there is no letting up for 38 or so minutes of the records entirety. Each song is a ferocious stab.
Most importantly, the band has managed to capture the rawness of their live sound perfectly, which is something a lot of bands can lose in the recording process, and in turn can be disastrous after building a fan based predominantly on live shows. Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo, however, contains a raw aggression that Steve Albini would be proud of. At the same time, however, HUWWTD still blend melody into the carnage that works to form a beautiful, ferocious juxtaposition. It’s hard to pick a real stand out moment from this impressive debut, but the final track ‘Fortunado’ seems to ice the cake quite perfectly. One can only imagine the chaos that will ensue when its final moments are heard live.
Often comparing a band to predecessors can take away from the band itself, but in this case it seems Ireland really has found its answer to The Jesus Lizard or Shellac. Hands Up… have proven themselves as one of the most impressive bands in this country already, this album should merely cement that fact.