Crazy Arm - Dark Hands, Thunderbolts | Album Review

Frantic, cathartic & chaotic in one, the Devonian collective make a euphoric comeback with their first release in over seven years. Dark Hands,Thunderbolts leads a tumultuous charge with what could already be one of the best albums of the year as Crazy Arm crash through the glass ceiling with their perfect, unorthodox symmetry - the perfect combination of folk, punk & bluegrass.

Described by some as centering a strong cinematic influence, Dark Hands, Thunderbolts snatches your breath from your mouth from the very first chord and leaves you reeling as it weaves its way through a notable fourteen track release. Scheduled for release on the 29th of January via Xtra Mile Recordings, Crazy Arm have spent the months since the album announcement steadily enticing fans old and new with a gradual trickle of advance singles and causing a stir on the EU circuit once treaded as thousands of music lovers struggle to contain their excitement in the build up to release day. The fourth full length release from the band and the follow up to the 2013 record The Southern Wild, Dark Hands, Thunderbolts boasts an enormous collaboration from eight unique performers, each donating their own specific approach to their craft and building a truly wonderful record from the ground up. A colourful array of instrumentation gives this canvas an interesting texture, and from the word go the up-tempo introduction in the form of ‘Montenegro’ erupts into crisp electric guitar and foot stomping pub song.

As the track builds, there's a certain electricity in the air. South West operation Middle Farm Studios have developed a strong reputation for how they encapsulate the sounds on their records, and Dark Hands, Thunderbolts is another prime example of some stellar production. Each note retains every ounce of the bands larger than life character, with gravelly vocals rivalling tight harmonies, and manic percussion coming up in a frenzy of guitar work. Hectic blues rock that’s good for the soul.

The third track on the record titled Brave Starts Here', is an instant winner and sure to be a fan favourite. Accompanied by a humorous visual, soaring chants and an infectious chorus put a smile on your face no matter the mood - before flowing seamlessly into the four minute spectacle that is ‘Fear Up’. Our encounter with the brass section is far too brief, and the track's only downside is that it isn’t that little bit longer.

This album is a journey that remains one and the same, yet each track brings something refreshingly different and its own unique assets. From the delicate string interlude of ‘Dearborn’ through to the shuddering intensity of ‘Demonised’ and the vocal powerhouse of ‘Trail of Meds’ there is no argument that the eccentric collaboration have covered all bases with a record that wholeheartedly boasts something for everyone. ‘Health Is In You!’ ties things off perfectly as the closing track, a cathartic finish to a rollercoaster of emotions.

The end of such a diverse listening experience is sure to bring with it a unanimous reaction amongst its audience. Crazy Arm have created something truly special with this album, and Dark Hands, Thunderbolts is a strong contender for the bands best body of work.

Score: 9/10

Dark Hands, Thunderbolts is released January 29th via Xtra Mile Recordings.

Pre-order the record here.


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