Review Summary: Hatred Grinder, or maybe Mammoth Surge.
There was a time when powerviolence, crust, d-beat, Swedish death metal, sludge, and grind were not composites of the modern sound of much of hardcore and metal; in 2013, however, Hatred Surge would have you forget that time. Hatred Surge has been delivering punishing powerviolence/grind since 2004; their landmark release, 2009's Deconstruct, truly represented the anger residing deep in the bowels of Texas, and featured some of the most effective male/female counterpoint vocals this side of As the Roots Undo. Knowing this, you might be inclined to wonder what happened to these guys in four years.
Human Overdose is certainly a surge of hatred (a rather apt name for a band such as this); however, it's not exactly anything you haven't heard before. That being said, it frankly sounds very little like the Hatred Surge we've become accustomed to. Gone are the nasty yells and BLEHHHs, the sloppy, bass-dominated pv-riffage of the past, and the spastic stop-start song structures; in their place resides a monotonous low growl accompanied by that same buzzsaw sound that virtually every band seems to be aping these days. The only tying theme between the two LPs is the assault provided by drummer Mike Sharp, the obvious talent of the band. Otherwise, Human Overdose comes off as the slightly-crustier answer to sister band Mammoth Grinder.
Human Overdose opens with "Figurehead", an ambient intro that drones on for longer than any real song; quite honestly, this set me up for quite a bit of excitement, as albums that start off with a piece of swampy drone tend to get pretty weird. The generic sample that ends the piece sets you up for the generic music that is to follow, a cheesy "Welcome to reality, welcome to death". From this point on, you're treated to a constant barrage of one-speed crust-core meets very early Napalm Death; that is to say, these are some of the most simple and unmoving riffs being passed off as new in 2013. This fails to be helped by the bass; while somewhat audible under the murky guitars, frontman and founder Alex Hughes fails to play to the expectations he gave us meandering about on Deconstruct, instead feeling content to follow the weak guitars. Hughes also fails to deliver a notable vocal performance, where instead of the exciting call-and-response between himself and whoever his lady friend of the release is, we get a constant bark reminiscent of Black Breath, Xibalba, Trap Them, et al. This leaves Sharp to carry the weight of his entire band; and while his lack of reliance on D-beat is refreshing, a drummer cannot make pure, plagiaristic simplicity sound exciting. What we are left with is an embarrassingly average attempt at the crust/d-beat/sludge-core sound so popular today.
Perhaps the influence of the exceedingly mediocre Mammoth Grinder (founded by HS guitarist Chris Ulsh and including Alex Hughes on bass) has finally overcame Hatred Surge; perhaps this was simply a misstep on the way to bigger and better things. Whatever the case may be, nobody ever asked Hatred Surge to overhaul their sound, and Human Overdose is proof that they'd be better off sticking to the tried and true.