Review Summary: Melodic death metal that has a hard time finding its sound.
Hatesphere formed in 2001 in Denmark. After releasing their self titled debut that same year they got some attention that died down soon after. The band is still going strong today but only features one original member. Since this release they have put out two more full-lengths. Unfortunately the band has never managed to top The Sickness Within. The Sickness Within is a good example of the bands signature sound. It features very catchy melodies and riffs and shows emphasis on the bands capability to create a groove. Hatesphere knows how to milk a groove for all it is worth and moves on just before it becomes uninteresting. They aren't afraid to change pace throughout the album and this aspect gives the album an overall fresh feel and creates excellent replay value.
The vocalist shows a decent range during the playtime of The Sickness Within. His voice has an odd quality that sets him apart from the pack of vocalists in similar bands. His trademark yell is mid-range and executed with vicious delivery. He also attempts low guttural growls at times and does so very well. He brings enough to the table to keep things interesting. Aside from a few moments in "Sickness Within" all the vocal work on the album is harsh, and in this song only a few seconds of cleans are used along with someone talking over the instrumentals. The band might have some luck diving deeper into experimenting with clean vocals because in the moments they are used he seems to have an interesting voice.
The riffs on the album come in spurts of very memorable to "heard this a thousand times". For example the main riff on "Seeds of Shame" seems like something that Lamb of God recycled. "Reaper of Life" features some of the most memorable guitarwork on the album, the main riff featured in the song is so infectious that it is almost hard to keep yourself from humming along or playing air guitar. A few breakdowns are included on the album, though not often, they do provide a good pit inducing atmosphere. Knowing exactly how long to hold a riff can make or break a record and these guys have their timing down, so while the guitarwork isn't extremely impressive the structures and tempos make up for it in the long run.
The drumming is very is executed with accuracy. Considering the plentiful tempo changes he is able to keep a groove during the entire record. The fact that the drumming on the album isn't just one continuous blastbeat is always a welcomed plus.The bass isn't audible through most of the album, and it is a shame because the overall sound could use some real thickening up. Another change from their previous releases is that on the surface it appears that Hatesphere is a little less angry than they were before. This could be a very good thing for listeners or an incredibly bad thing. They trade in their gritty angry feel that their past releases featured in order to create a more controlled and organized sound. The vocals seem more trained and are executed with more precision giving it the feeling that the structures were planned before Jacob hit the vocal booth, rather than on past releases where it almost seemed like he just went with the flow of the song and threw the first take on the final product.
Overall The Sickness Within gets a solid 3.5 out of 5. The band manages to keep things entertaining throughout but they fail to make this album anything more than great. The Sickness Within is worth at least one listen to fans of melodic death metal in general. In the future if the band can throw write more memorable instrumental elements than they could just make themselves a masterpiece but until then they will just be another melo-death band that are just good enough to hold your attention.