Richard Sawyer

Hell Is For Heroes
"The Neon Handshake"

9th June 2005
Album Cover reviewer: Richard Sawyer
rating: 5 out of 5
published by: EMI
released: 11th March 2003
  1. Five Kids Go
  2. Out Of Sight
  3. Night Vision
  4. Cut Down
  5. Few Against Many
  6. Three Of Clubs
  7. I Can Climb Mountains
  8. Disconnector
  9. You Drove Me To It
  10. Slow Song
  11. Sick Happy
  12. Retreat

When Hell Is For Heroes first burst onto the scene they had an abundance of hype surrounding them. They, having been fashioned by former Symposium guitarist Will McGonagle and drummer Joe Birch, shouldered a weight of expectation (Symposium being a promising young British band whose shelf life was cut short due to record label issues).

Rather than rush the release of ‘The Neon Handshake’, they decided to hold off and concentrate on evolving their sound and presence as a live band. They wowed crowds with both their stage shows and then with their massive singles; ‘Night Vision’, ‘I Can Climb Mountains’ and ‘You Drove Me To It’. With everything in place, ‘The Neon Handshake’ came to market, and with it HiFH have established themselves as one of the greatest British bands of this generation, if not ever.

It’s hard to pick out individual moments of brilliance, in an album so littered with genius. An element which I feel is not highlighted enough if their more emotive and uplifting side. ‘Slow Song’ and ‘Retreat’ both have the ability make hairs stand up on the back of people’s necks. Something which strikes me as different about HiFHs is how lyrically strong they are. Finding a band that can pump out decent riffs is one thing. Finding one that can also create empowering, epic and pulsating songs is quite another.

I feel that not only is this album intensely amazing, it’s also immensely important for British music. Line this London quintet up alongside the US’s finest Nu-Metal bands, and you see the depth of talent that Hell Is For Heroes possess. Young songwriters will hopefully look up to what they have achieved here and realise how much there is to writing a great song. The band themselves have gone through some hardship and this album feels like they have found themselves en route, and are now here to tell the tale and give others hope.

Overall the album is stunning, refreshing and currently unchallenged. If you have any interest in the British music scene or quality music in general I implore you to pick this album up now.

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