Tooth & Nail have always have always been synonymous with unearthing new talent. Whether it’s rock, punk, hardcore or alternative, they’ve provided an excellent proving ground for many up-and-coming-acts for the last two decades – and you can add Hearts Like Lions to their glittering list of alumni.
Considerably more accessible than the likes of Norma Jean or Underoath, there’s still an enjoyable crunch and weight to Hearts Like Lions’ layered and textured approach to post-hardcore/alternative rock. It helps too that vocalist Stephen Ramos has a simply gorgeous voice which goes right to a beautiful falsetto with breath-taking ease. Reserved yet steely, it’s packed with emotion and power, and sets them apart from their contemporaries perfectly.
For a three-piece, Hearts Like Lions also make a heck of a lot of noise. Songs such as the epic closing title track (‘These Hands’) are wonderfully constructed and arranged, lying somewhere between the depth and dexterity of Elliott and the power of Lonely The Brave or Manchester Orchestra, while ‘Wake Up’ and ‘I’m Not Running Away From This’ are taut and brooding affairs.
When they go for the jugular from the off, they’re less successful however. ‘Trust Me’, for example, adds much needed tempo to proceedings, but is also the least interesting of the tracks on offer. It’s a shame as when they do manage to successfully marry their alt-rock styling with punk aspirations, like on the outstanding ‘Man Of Dust’, they really deliver.
Overall, ‘These Hands’ certainly marks Hearts Like Lions out as ones to watch. Polished but with enough of an edge to remain interesting, it’s an assured EP which leaves you both wanting more and eager to discover where these Lions will go next.
‘These Hands’ EP by Hearts Like Lions is out now on Tooth & Nail.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair