February 21, 2012 - Blacktop
The latest by California prog-rockers Open Hand is a one-track, 10-minute sweep through the band’s inimitable career, combining a mesmerizing assortment of outtakes, demos, live snippets and random ideas into one uninterrupted stream of musical consciousness. If Open Hand’s creative lives were flashing before their ears, this might be what it would sound like.
After an appropriately Satanic opening greeting, The Mark Of The Demon first unfurls like a Cave In record, with sludgy, droning guitars and dream-like vocals, then shifts into softer, more serene moments around the three-minute mark. The transitions between ideas are intentionally jarring at times—especially when the demonic voiceover returns—and hypnotically fluid at others. Speed metal at minute six gives way to more ethereal guitars, followed by background partying noise, then shifts into a David Bowie-esque refrain at 7:17; so much happens, in fact, that the 10 minutes are over before you know it. Then you go back and listen again, only to discover something new and equally stunning each successive time.
Open Hand are reportedly working on a full-length this year, but until then, The Mark Of The Demon definitely tides fans over. The band achieve more in 10 minutes than others accomplish in an hour—which, granted, can be challenging for the listener, but fairly awesome in the end. Like a snake that just devoured a large land mammal, this demon takes some time to digest.