In the past few years Lifeforce Records could prove impressively often what a fine sense for excellent newcomers they have, and thus it’s not surprising in the least that HAND TO HAND (debut EP “Fast Forward Your Thoughts”) can convince as well and consequently they seamlessly join the line of excellent bands on this exemplary label. With that said, the ingredients and their mixture on “A Perfect Way To Say Goodbye” aren’t new at all, for the mixing of influences from thick Hardcore, traditional Heavy Metal and a healthy portion of Rock is very common in the Metal genre these days and furthermore it’s really popular.
But yet HAND TO HAND, who are from Orlando, Florida, have got the hang of it and pleasingly stand out from the mass of bands and moreover they convince through technical knowledge that is hard to compete with. Where other bands from this genre start the attempt to increase the pressure within the songs through clumsy breakdowns, HAND TO HAND surprise with emotional melodies that lie over the brutish grooves. Another big plus is the faceted vocal style of Robert Kellom, who demands everything from his vocal chords, from harsh howling to crystal clear, and who can convince to full extent at any time. When it’s necessary he is supported by guitarist Brock Berryhill, who contributes to the songs time and again and who fills gaps on the vocal level that may appear. With all the musical confusion the songs on “A Perfect Way To Say Goodbye” always stay comprehensible and after the first listen they can already settle down for quite some time in the auditory center.
So it can quite happen that one or another chorus is still sticking to your head after hours or that single melodies keep haunting you days later. The first song “Preamble” already is a first-class ear-wig, and the change between aggressive and melodic passages is simply moving and exemplary. The rude beginning quickly makes way for great guitar harmonies to run into one of the many choruses on this disc that send shivers down your spine. Great performance on an acoustic level, no doubt. Once the opening track has grown on you, the following hammers won’t disappoint you. Of course, “Allude” is no exception and thus this song also gallops through the speakers thoroughbred stallion style and it perfectly closes the gap between the influences mentioned at the beginning. Heavy double bass attacks, melodic hooks and blessed vocals are also offered by “The Arson” in vast amounts, with brutality and more modest parts always being there in equal measures.
However HAND TO HAND are always far enough away from whimpy sounds to prove wrong the reproach of commercial sell-out that might arise right away. Next up is “Insult With Injuries”, another anthem that once again proves that the five musicians from America’s sunshine and hurricane state can call an unlimited stock of ideas their own. A short but brutish breakdown opens “Refused Decision”, before they competently bet on acoustic interludes afterwards. “Predictable Gathering” can also maintain what the previous songs cemented in every regard, without letting boredom arise. Even after the first half of “A Perfect Way To Say Goodbye” the scheme works fine and especially on the vocal level the colourful change is sensational. So it’s not surprising that “A Silver Medal” and “Bravo” excellently kick into your guts and that no signs of tiredness become apparent.
With “In A Name” they do slow down towards the end of the record and alternate skilfully between Emo and Rock, with the ability not to sound banal or whimped-out. As a closer another acoustic instrumental follows in “Confiding In A Whisper”, which calmly ends this disc. The following hidden track shows the funny side of HAND TO HAND, but everybody should listen to it with enough time on their hands, as it completely breaks the rules and has absolutely nothing to do with Metal or Hardcore. So what remains is an overall impression that defies any criticism and makes you expect a lot of this band in the future. As the production handled by Paul Wisner (UNDEROATH, 36 CRAZYFISTS, FURTHER SEEMS FOREVER, …) lives up to your expectations as well, this masterpiece must be recommended without any restrictions. Both thumbs up for a band that more than did their homework and that thus will soon draw the fans’ attention. Sensational!!! (Online June 30, 2005)