Review Summary: Crushed under the weight
Concrete confession time: I’m an album guy. It’s difficult for me to put something on shuffle or listen to an album without starting from track 1. Therefore, if an album does not grab my attention from the very beginning, I tend turn my nose up at the rest.
Considering this, it’s an absolute miracle that I listened to Weight of the False Self in its entirety.
Hatebreed needs no introduction, but their recent hot streak does. Since 2009’s self-titled, Hatebreed have been remarkably consistent, releasing album after album’s worth of solid hardcore. Part of what makes each release work is how the band frontloads their track lists with killer songs that grab the listener immediately and thrusts them into the proverbial pit. Weight of the False Self, on the other hand, sputters out of the gate with by-the-numbers-but-worse tracks like Set It Right (Start With Yourself)
and Instinctive (Slaughterlust)
. Considering the band’s embrace of more thrash-oriented elements over the past 10 years, to hear them rely more on uninspired ‘chugga chugga’ palm-muted riffs is disheartening. Segments where chords are allowed to ring out are often exciting, but they are inevitably followed by ever more ice cream, chugga chugga, ice cream chugga
Worse yet is the step down in lyrical quality. Credit where it’s due, there are some nice lyrical moments and genuinely interesting wordplay on display, but it just feels forced more often than it should. This is most evident on the title track where front man Jamey Jasta spits out probably the most awkward reprise of Hatebreed’s career:
If you want to make a difference in the world it means
you have to be different from the world you see
free yourself from burdens that you know exist
don’t carry the curse of the fatalist
That’s a mouthful. Worse, it’s a mouthful unworthy of the quality singer/growler behind it. Another offender, the aforementioned Start With Yourself
, is only the first of like 3 songs that center around the motif of, “be the change you want to see in the world.” The sentiment is welcome, but we’ve heard this at least twice per album on 7 other albums already.
Fortunately, the album does pick up a bit from Cling to Life
and onward. A Stroke of Red
breaks into an unexpected thrash segment that gives a sense of urgency missing elsewhere on the album, The Herd Will Scatter
has a breakneck, yet bouncy rhythm. Again, none of this is new or original, but it will serve the listener well as they run laps (outside and 6 feet away from others).
Considering Hatebreed’s formula, I suppose this sort of boilerplate hardcore songwriting shouldn’t be a surprise, but the devil is in the details. A good Hatebreed song has a delicate formula based primarily around Jasta’s excellent growl, distorted guitars that utilize metalcore and thrash influences, and percussion meant to get the crowd moving and heads bobbing. The final ingredient to all of this is Jasta’s empowering words, imploring the listener to see their better angels. However, should one of these elements fail, the music becomes stale. For the first time in a long time, Hatebreed seems to be crushed under the weight of this truth.