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hAND: Kintsugi

Cracked yet cracking third from the British quartet.

Their influences zip from Dream Theater to Hell Is For Heroes to Kate Bush, so you’re going to get a mixed bag with English quartet hAND, and their third album is pretty much that.

A quick Google reveals that the title refers to the ornate Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery. This record isn’t without a couple of cracks itself, but the good stuff is great. Opener Level One explodes into life with supreme prog metal chops, while Volcanic Panic flits between Haken soundtracking a nightmare and hyped-up lead-guitar frenzy. The kinetic Nebula throws some funky shapes, whereas the piano-driven Amazing Burn is a real tear-jerker. They’re versatile alright, and yet in between all the choruses, odd time signatures, hooks and well-studied prog-rock salutes, there’s one important moot point. While bassist Kat Ward’s vocals are moody enough to imbue the music with a reflective aura, they do jar at times, with the likes of Anthem held back by her fragile, wavering performance. But then a prog metal album’s success doesn’t hinge solely on the singer, and if you’re a fan of the genre and can embrace Ward’s work, there’s a smorgasbord of licks and tricks to entertain and enthrall you here.