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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
The Neon Handshake
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£3.37+ £1.26 shipping

on 12 November 2004
There are few words that can do justice to an album of such magnitude. Without a doubt the two stand-out tracks are 'I can climb mountains' and 'You drove me to it.' Each of these is a near perfect three-or-so minutes of British post-hardcore. If you thought Hundred Reasons were good then you are missing out on this far superior band. I challenge you to walk down any street listening to this album without walking tall with the kind of militant positivity that this band generate. There is no filler on 'The neon handshake'. Although the lyrics are intelligent the combination of this with the musical simplicity makes for one of the most inspirational and simultaneously ignored albums of our time. Much of the beauty lies in the simplicity of the musical structure of the album - littered with dropped-d tunings and tight drumming. The epiphany of this album is located from 2.12 to the end of 'You drove me to it' - 'they won't break me' is all the prospective listener needs to know about the evolution of the two former Symposium members and the attitude that they engender in their listeners.
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on 9 March 2017
Hot on the heels of Hundred Reasons' Ideas Above Our Station as the standout album of the early millennial UK post hardcore scene. A colossus of an album loaded with stomping tracks it really bridges the gap between straight rock and 'emo' as it was at that time. Inventive and chaotic with a real confidence and swagger. Heavy yet tender and vital and so well compiled with track after track offering a new angle. Possibly lacks the continuous sense of identity that makes a classic album but with material like You Drove Me To It, Slow Song and I Can Climb Mountains who cares?
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on 27 February 2003
Having heard their name fluttered about the music scene I awaited this debut with baited breath. Hailed as this year's Hundred Reasons, Hell is for Heroes are a no-nonsense rock outfit. The comparisons with Hundred Reasons are obvious, their breed of rock being fairly hard but with a refreshing British, almost indie-like edge.
The Neon Handshake is a step on from the HR album Ideas Above Our Station, the riffs are more intelligent, the chaos more subtle and the melodies are, well, more delicate and run deeper than simple riffing. HIFH's frontman has the same tendancy to scream as much as he sings, a la Colin Doran but his voice is stronger than the Hundred Reasons vocalist, rarely (if ever) faltering. The biggest difference to me is that HIFH are a much tighter band rhythmically. It seems their drummer is of a different class, and although the style of rock is different, it is worth comparing HIFH's rhythm section with that of the Deftones and A Perfect Circle. Even the production seems more suiting to the style, the Neon Handshake maintaining beautiful sonic balance whilst retaining the rawness of heavy rock, for example the ring on the snare drum really adds to the whole mood a dynamic of the song. This is all epitomised by the excellent single 'You Drove Me to It'.
There are some standout tracks here. 'Night Vision' borrows Placebo-esque drive and soaring melody, combining it with Deftones-like heaviness. 'I Can Climb Mountains' is arguably the album's best, fusing delicate chiming melody with all the angst and pure adrenaline of a Hundred Reasons track. 'Cut Down' and 'Few Against Many' are reasonable tracks, but amongst songs of such quality they seem a little lacklustre. This album exudes class, passion and ability from every pore.
The Neon Handshake is a thoroughly satisfying album to listen to. Although the lack of true originality means that this debut wont change the face of music, the material is brilliantly fresh. This is one to turn up loud...
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on 11 February 2003
Oh no. Not another this-years-biggest-thing.
Lots and lots were promised by this band. Symposium briefly rocked the western world, and when Hell is for Heroes began to tour, memories of that band came back.
So what to expect? More middle of the road guitar chunter with maybe one or two good songs (See also Hundred Reasons) or maybe some hardcore off the rails expressway-2-yr-skull rage (See also The Icarus Line). The reality, however, is so much more...
The stunningly names quintet bring much more to the table than their predecessors. With a couple of members in common with the 'Posium, the powerful crunching riffage is, of course, abundant, but it's the other ingredients which make this album so indispensable. The stunningly simple live opener Slow Song exemplifies the Hell is for Heroes sound, drifting from mellow, floating melody to crunching, violent peaks and back again.
The same can be said of stand out track Sick/Happy. This song shows other bands how to do the soft-hard-soft thing with stlye, originalty and, take note InMe, power and feeling. The hardest thing to believe about this song is that it was the first ever written by the band.
A special mention must go to Out Of Sight, for being one of the most powerful songs put on record since The Icarus Line told us to 'Feed A Cat to your Cobra'.
The singles are, in the most part, stunning. You Drove Me To It and I Can Climb Mountains are two of the most addictive and driving peieces of pure RoCk you are likely to hear this year, but the song Night Vision is relatively weak. That said, its still a stunning tune, just lacks the flair of the rest of the album.
Before we talk too much about the vitriol and power of this album, we have to rember the melodic side. Along with the aforementioned Slow Song, Disconnector and Few Against Many show up this side of the record, but to be honest, on every song on here, the melody struggles above the raging forests of feedback and glides gracefully like a bird...
If Hell is for Heroes, then these lads are heading straight for retirement in the devilish clutches of Belezebub, because if this debut is anything to go by, we may just be dealing with the new heroes of British rock.
Five stars, the first of 2003.
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on 19 July 2005
The Neon Handshake, the debut album by the british fivesome, is arguably one of the greatest albums around.
Any band with 2/5ths of Symposium is always going to give you pounding dropped-D riffs and some of the best drumming that you can imagine, but when Joe Birch and William McGonagle formed HIFH with old school-mates Tom O'Donoghue and James Findlay, there are always going to be some huge songs around.
Fronted by Justin Schlosberg, with one of the greatest voices in rock (2nd only to Chris Cornell in my opinion) the band set about becoming one of the best bands about, and to those who follow them, there is seldom anyone better.
Five Kids Go, has a quiet beginning, but then just gets straight to the point.. and is followed by the thumping Out Of Sight.
'Cut Down', 'Few Against Many', 'Three Of Clubs', 'Disconector' and 'Slow Song' are all up there with the best, but when inter-twined with the singles 'Night Vision', the awesome 'I Can Climb Mountains', 'Sick Happy' and the unbelievable 'You Drove Me To It', with one of the simplest but all-time greatest riffs ever, The Neon Handshake brings your senses to distraction.
The album closes with the Monumental single 'Retreat', one of my 5 favourite songs of all time.
In essence, the album is a must for fans of brilliant guitar work, rough and throaty vocals, sensible drumming, and a bass guitar than cuts through everything.
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on 31 January 2003
With their much-anticipated debut album, Hell is for Heroes' have successfully combined killer riffs, distinctive vocals and strong melodies. And thankfully there's not the slightest whiff of Symposium in the air.
In fact its Placebo influences that are rife from the outset, most noticeably in the guitar riffs of 'Five Kids Go' and 'Three of Clubs', where mid-90s rock meets 21st Century 'mojo'.
Of the crop, its 'Out of Sight' which is probably the most 'nu-metal' song on the album, although its strong drumming and killer bass line means that it is still a damn fine tune. Undeniably the best track though, is previous single 'I Can Climb Mountains'; an anthem in the making with the infectious refrain 'I can build bridges from what you burn'. Naturally, the best way to listen to the song is loud and repeatedly. Pushing hard though, is the raw, dirty and frankly, sexy current single, 'You Drove Me to It'. Imagine the Foo Fighters and Placebo having grainy French film sex in a toilet whilst Christina Aguilera looks on, stroking a whip.
The only real problem with the album is that with repeated listens, singer Justin Schlosberg's vocals do become rather samey, most noticeably on 'Night Vision', Which is frankly, a crap song lacking structure and asks the question as to why it was chosen as a single, especially in light of the quality of the rest of the songs on 'The Neon Handshake'. Undeniably catchy, spirited and as more-ish as salt and vinegar Squares, it's a definite recipe to make you want to bounce round your bedroom in front of the mirror with no shame.
HifH prove they are one step ahead of their contemporaries, such as InMe and Hundred Reasons - in the fellowship of 'Nu-Rock', if you will - by providing instantly recognisable tracks that don't so much demand your attention as stamp on your foot, pull your hair and spit in your eye to get it.
If you don't already play guitar I can guarantee you will have an urge to start after listening to 'The Neon Handshake'. In fact, I can predict that teenagers bought this album for their birthday will be requesting a Gibson and Marshall stack for Christmas.
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on 4 February 2003
A highly anticapated album, 'The neon handshake' by hell is for heroes, is a brilliant debut album from a leading post-hardcore quintet from london. Recorded in america, th band have done one of the best albums of 2003. Stand out tracks include the first single, 'I can climb mountains' and 'You drove me to it'. All i can say is after hearing this album,i wanted more. Hell is for heroes have thrown everything they got at you, and their hard work has paid off. A must buy for all post-hardcore fans.
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on 1 May 2003
The first time I heard anything by this band, it was the I Can Climb Mountains video on the TV. It was a fantastic song and it had excellent hooks to it. The combination of the beautiful overdriven harmonics at the start with the drop d chugging afterwards makes for a song that you simply can’t help but enjoy.
The rest of the album certainly lives up to the excellence of ICCM. In fact, there isn’t a song on there that I don’t like. For me, there is almost always a song on most albums that I think isn’t as good as the others. But not here.
The only song that really breaks away from the mould (of rock) is the beautiful Slow Song which is simply excellent. To me, the lyrics are simply touching and the way the song builds up and progresses is fantastic.
All in all, this album has made me once again believe that rock music can be good. The past year or so has seen some awful rock bands go places. Hell Is For Heroes deserve every success that they can get.
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on 15 February 2005
This is a formidable debut album; the Heroes have often been compared to their contemparies Hundred Reasons and Biffy Clyro and it seems that they have been left behind a little in the race for publicity.
Musically and lyrically I prefer this album to either of Hundred Reason's albums. To be fair it is fairly heavy (songs such as "Out of Sight" have the appropriate screaming choruses and excess distortion) but the way that the instruments are used to create a unique sound is quite incredible. The carefully woven melodies in "Retreat" and "Night Vision" are far more creative than most 3-power-chord metal bands will ever achieve. The singing is raw and passionate, and works perfectly atop a sometimes raging, sometimes tense and sometimes calm background of music.
Songs to listen to: - Few Against Many
- Night Vision
- Retreat
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on 3 February 2003
finally its out after months of anticipation, holding back and excitement. finally a compliation from the greatest emo-metal band is on the greedy shelves of all music stores across the UK and the web. it was worth every moment of the wait with re-mastered versions of all the classic songs, most notably the version of 'i can climb mountains'.
it brings light relief and continue the long line of great bands arriving at our frequently ignorant hands, unnoticed. rock music isn't dead, isn't exploited..this is proof.
the cd opens 'five kids go' a kinda blended heavier openng that rips into a mixture of mellow/heavy so perfect that it brought tears to my eyes (weeps at the sound). every song pleases and i simply can't mix enough complimentary words to describe this cd.
go buy its worth every penny of your hard earned and burned cash.
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