Florida outfit Hand to Hand are back with their sophomore full-length effort Design the End/Follow the Horizon in an attempt to follow up on the considerable success and acclaim they received for their debut album A Perfect Way To Say Goodbye (2005).
Musically, we’re definitely in metalcore territory with the occasional detour into the emo genre, meaning that we get ten well executed and solidly produced tracks in the vein of As I Lay Dying, Trivium, Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu and Killswitch Engaged. Certain tracks – such as ‘Mr Warwithin’ – are a bit on the lighter side and bear a certain resemblance to Linkin Park, while others – say, Los Muertos Caminan (that even has a P.O.D. sounding chorus at the end) – are much darker and grittier and almost manage to tap into the Gothenburg ore (i.e. Soilwork and the like).
In other words, an album with a very modern sound that one might almost label ‘American’ and tracks that mostly follow the formula: heavy guitars and screamed vocals followed by melodic choruses with clean vocals and the obligatory change of pace from upbeat metal to a plodding bass/drum driven mosh tempo.
While this quintet certainly possesses the energy and enthusiasm required to deliver this kind of music with conviction and intensity, there aren’t any tracks that really stand out, and I can’t say why one should choose this album over any other recent metalcore release. Die hard fans of the genre should definitely check this one out, but in my opinion there’s nothing new on the horizon. This is still harmless ‘chart metal’ that any college boy could put on his iPod with little risk of being ostracized by his peers.