With a promising start, The Handshake Murders methodically kick off their Goodfellow debut with the same obtuse Meshuggah regurgitation that led A Life Once Lost to considerable success on their "Hunter" release. Brutal off-kilter riffs, a disorienting sense of timing and a vocalist whose throat bellows with the conviction of an enraged cult leader.
It's all quite brutal, meticulous and unforgivingly blunt as the band trudge through a cross between Swedish tech-groove mastery and the type of wretched metalcore that sprouted up in the late 90's long before mascara and women's pants took over. However, by the time a few songs run their course it readily becomes apparent that these boys have a serious lack of their own ideas. In fact, it almost becomes painful as each song turgidly retreads a similar formula of imploding adverse riffage and unhinged roars. Basically, with little more than a changed vocal pitch or harmonic squeal, boredom doesn't take long to set in.
In this sense it's frustrating as the group have a knack for emulating Meshuggah's convoluted teachings, yet no taste for their ability to push their music in unique and creative directions. Instead, it all just continually grinds the listener down into a numb state of blankness as the guitar traffic piles up. If anything, "Usurper" sees The Handshake Murders" as little more than a technically able outfit who can't seem to produce anything innovatory enough to match their own intensity, which is truly a shame.
(2.5 / 5)