The Handshake Murders – Usurper (CD)

The Handshake Murders – Usurper / 2007 Goodfellow / 11 Tracks / http://www.thehandshakemurders.com / http://www.goodfellowrecords.com / Reviewed 26 January 2007

The hardness of the opening of “Usurper” shows The Handshake Murders as an actthat is heavily influenced by the hardcore genre. This is done to the degree that one can barely hear any metal influence present in the band’s first track of “Usurper”, “Dissector”.

The guitars finally kick in after a few minutes in somewhat of a Slayer-like fashion, but The Handshake Murders are much more inculcated in the hardcore tradition. Regardless of their overall sound, The Handshake Murders are able to insert more than their fair share of harmony during “Dissector”. This is dissipated slightly during “Bloodline”, but the band decides to go in another direction by that time. It seems as if the band’s sludge influences come to the fore during “Bloodline”, which means that individuals will have a much easier time finding something that they like in this CD. It is as if The Handshake Murders are bringing back the metal of bands like the Deftones, Coal Chamber and Static-X, albeit with a much harder edge than was the case during 1997 to 2000. The Handshake Murders blend this style with the hardcore style mentioned earlier, to the point that something new is founded. Each of the tracks has a very quick tempo and allows The Handshake Murders to establish themselves but to also not allow themselves to get stale.

This is a great thing during tracks like “Messenger”, where the repetition of certain words is over the top. “Error” is perhaps the weakest track on “Usurper”, due to the repetition that the opening riff receives. Couple that with the fact that it sounds similar to any one of thirty other songs that came from the 1997-2000 metal era, and the band has just been stalled in their tracks. The band tries to redeem themselves by moving in a Morbid Angel way, but they are still a few steps behind where they were during the ending of “Messenger”. The Handshake Murders have a tremendous amount of intensity during the entirety of “Usurper”, but the band does not make the needed steps to capture a fan base and keep them in the palms of their hands. The band may be able to make a step forward on their next album, but “Usurper” is not their time to shine. For Goodfellow releases of the last year, pick up Intronaut. It might be best to pass on The Handshake Murders at this point.

Top Tracks: Mind Berder, Messenger

Rating: 3.0/10

[JMcQ]

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