Review Summary: Hatebreed update their sound with a bit more metal and a willingness to experiment a little.
Hatebreed have been called a lot of things over the course of their career, but never diverse. Their continued attempts to create the ultimate blend of hardcore and metal has left every one of their albums severely limited in scope. Despite this, they continued to try to perfect their sound which ultimately resulted in their best and most refined work, Supremacy
was a near-perfect barrage of heavy riffs, high-speed tempos, and hardcore shouts and there was really no further they could have taken it. When the band finally released their covers album almost three years later it seemed fairly inconsequential, but it turns out that it was a good indication of the band’s intentions. On their new self-titled release they have fully embraced their metal influences and have created an album that could actually be called diverse.
It only takes a few moments of opening track, “Become the Fuse”, to hear the band’s total acceptance of metal. The riffs have shed a lot of their punk leanings in favor of a rhythmic metal crunch that is accentuated by leads that owe a lot to South of Heaven
. The band have even slowed down a lot of their songs to a more moderate pace that could also be associated with that era, but that might be a stretch. Other metal elements to find their way into this album include a sing/scream vocal style on songs such as “In Ashes They Shall Reap”, and actual guitar solos. The biggest surprise is the solemn instrumental, “Undiminished”. The surprise isn’t so much that they attempted an instrumental; the surprise is that they pulled it off. “Undiminished” moves slowly and features a number of excellent guitar solos, some moody dual-guitar harmonies, and even ends with a subdued piano melody. It’s probably this song more than all others that proves just how much they’ve embraced their metal influences and also how well they’re pulling it off.
Despite the fact that the band has made their metal influences the focal point of the album, they haven’t forsaken their roots entirely. The groove that’s found in a lot of the slower songs and the reckless energy of some of the more aggressive moments definitely owes a lot to the hardcore scene, and of course the breakdowns and gang shouts are still a staple of the band’s sound. Almost as if in response to the abundance of metal on the album, the band have also included a few songs such as “Every Lasting Scar” which is probably one of the most pure hardcore punk songs the band has ever written. Of course, it’s also this hardcore influence that makes sitting through the entire album feel a bit repetitive, but that redundant nature is far less than on past albums due to the band’s increased metal influences.
Although the mixture of hardcore and metal isn’t anything new and the band’s move towards a metal sound isn’t exactly innovative, the way they use those styles makes a big difference. This is an album that has definite hardcore roots that are only enhanced by the band’s Slayer/Sepultura-influenced brand of metal. Of course, this slight progression in the band’s sound isn’t nearly enough to bring in new fans or silence those that find them dull and uninspired, but who cares? The band isn’t supposed to be progressive and innovative; they’re supposed to be aggressive and heavy with all else being secondary, and the fact that they’ve managed to accomplish that while updating their sound a little bit will be enough for any fan of the band’s last few albums.