The Handshake Murders


Goodfellow Records 2007

Combining different puzzle pieces of Metalcore, Death Metal, and some mathcore-esque breakdowns comes Arkansas' The Handshake Murders.  These guys bludgeon with monstrous stop and start riffs and pounding drums that have all the subtlety of battering ram at the castle gates.  Meaty riffs and galloping drums pound away at my flesh, especially on songs like Messenger and Mind Bender (my favorite track).  The guitars coil and unfold before contorting into another blood drenched transmutation all the while the drums bounce up and down with the intense thump of the double bass.  This is an effective combination at first but after awhile though the constant stream of changing riffs and over the top brutality cause the songs to blend together and the whole album seems like one continuous 32 minute long song.  Another aspect I could do without is the constant Korn inspired guitar squeals that have been proliferated throughout the album.  Usurper contains a lot of really powerful mosh breakdowns which would go over like a storm in the live environment.  And this is where I think this album wears its heart on its sleevel because it feels like and sounds like an album designed for the mayhem and chaos of the pit and the cavernous acoustics of a packed and sweaty concert hall.  Usurper has a really thick sound to all its instruments but they have sort of an organic feel to them almost like the audio impression of Clay: heavy and thick, yet malleable.  The Handshake Murders sound to me like Destroy the Machines era Earth Crisis would if they had been raised listening to Meshuggah having a guitar battle with Malevolent Creation.  They have ratcheted up the brutality of their peers and laid a top rope smack down on the metalcore scene.  Like a baseball bat with nails embedded in it, They'll smash in your face and "Rip your throat out."