Review ·

Ah, the burden of linear time. If only 2007 came before 2002, I could listen to Usurper and not be surprised by how directly the members of the Handshake Murders crib their off-time, pitch-bending riffs from Meshuggah's Nothing. If 2007 came before 1999, I could be convinced that Coalesce's Sean Ingram took his projectile-vomit vocal style from the Handshake Murders' Jayson Holmes, and not the other way around. And if the second track of Usurper came before the first-well, they sound so similar that I probably wouldn't notice.

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It's best to listen to Usurper, the Handshake Murders' first full-length, after you've accepted that it offers little we haven't already heard from a dozen other technical metalcore bands. That way you'll be able to appreciate the band's songs as the disgustingly heavy, complicated and ferocious lumps of rhythmic mind-fuckery that they are.

 

Imitators they may be, but the Handshake Murders are too good at what they do to be dismissed as just that. "Dissector" opens the album with an unfinished game of hide and seek with the downbeat. "Mind Bender" dares the hardcore kids to keep up with its hit parade of breakdowns, each combustible enough to carry an entire Norma Jean song by itself. And "Apostate" and "Myopia" slay all Matrix-style, freezing their riffs mid-stream, spinning them around, speeding them back up and then blowing them apart.

 

Every down stroke, palm mute and double-kick roll adds heft to a tightly coiled rhythmic bludgeon, giving Usurper an oppressively brutish, tense and Neanderthalic momentum. The consistency gets tiring, especially when combined with Holmes's unvarying (and unintelligible) vocal style, so the taut, thirty-two-minute runtime is welcome. That's long enough to decide whether Usurper is a defibrillator for a moribund metalcore scene or another indication that the genre's heart has already stopped beating. I'll go with the former-if only because the Handshake Murders sound mean enough to hunt me down and kill me if I don't.

 

***

Band: http://www.thehandshakemurders.com/

Label: http://www.goodfellowrecords.com/

Audio: www.myspace.com/thehandshakemurders

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alright dude... everytime i read a review on the handshake murders all i hear about is how they sound like other bands. and yeah, jayson sounds like coelesce, and yeah the guitars alot of the time sound meshugahish but thats mixing it up dude... thats what gives them their own sound. its just like every other genre of music; one person starts it the next takes what has been done and makes it theirs. And thats what the handshake murders have done. so people should stop downgrading them for this. keep it up handshake murders. -brandon rogers

brandon rogers

I disagree Brandon. It's impossible to come up with a sound without any references to previous sounds whatsoever, but the best bands can incorporate their influences and forge something original (or at least creative) from them, or take them in different directions. Handshake Murders don't have a single part of their sound that you can't trace to someone else. And I'm not saying that makes them a bad band -- they're great at what they do, and I actually really enjoyed Usurper, which I think comes across in my review. But at the same time I think it's important for bands to continue innovating, progressing, pushing forward, and Handshake Murders aren't doing that.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/narfish/HeadbangSquare.jpg narfish

Yeah brother, i get where your coming from. But i think the have at least some originality. I mean (and i think youll agree) they are HEAVY. Heavier than coelesce and in my opinion heaveir than messugah. Yeah man i copletley agree they are good at what they do and they are a really good band, especially live! Yeah man i guess i was just defending them cause i know them personally. but they are a good band i really enjoyed usurper and cant wait for the next one. Anyways, i gotta go bro. Later

Brandon Rogers

the guy that wrote this is a frekin ideot that used big words to make him look smart. this band is good and your an ideot.

sk8sk8nk

Im pretty sure that Usurper is NOT THM's first full length. And as long as Jayson Holmes is ten times sexier than Sean Ingram, I'll listen them over Coalesce any f'in day...

MouthofthaSouth

word to that guy right above me! Yeah, they released the first full length in 2000. its a way different style... good look finding it!
The Handshake Murders
"bury the effigy"
2000
Tree of Woe Records

Brandon Rogers

narfish you dont know what your talking about. EVERY band sounds like someone. EVERYONE. i mean, you can even connect johhny cash and jimi hendrix. you have to trace the roots of influences. but its the truth. but as they progressed they developed a more distinct sound. i mean, compare the single "cry cry cry", to all the "american" albums.. "and EVERY jimi hendrix album is different. same as meshuggah. their first album your like.. ummm, metalica cover band"? but compare that to 15 years later to obzen. see? compare "bury the effigy", to "usurper". big change. But quit dogging them. they are good. really good. and i agree brandon. they put on quite a show! i think it was a chain reaction about all the reviews. i think no one knew what to think about them so they just copied each other. but like i said, every band has obvious influences.

jane west

The only thing i see about people reviewing music on the internet is that the reviewers have all forgotten that nearly all musicians play music JUST BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT! It's not our place to put them down...If you love it do it, if it sounds good to you; then by all means listen to it. The Handshake Murders are superbadass and no one can say that they aren't talented. This all boils down to a matter of musical opinion/interest. If anyone reads a review and takes the reviewers word for anything is a fool and it is as simple as that...you have to find out for yourself.

Messi99

Retard. good band. thats it. awesome band...

haha999

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