Hatebreed The Concrete ConfessionalNuclear Blast Entertainment
Pounding the pavement.
What is there really to be said about a new Hatebreed album in 2016? While not yet grey enough to be considered elder statesmen, the die has long been cast for the group’s unrelenting blend of thrash and hardcore. Seven albums in their formula remains as brisk and effective as ever, with 13 tracks torn through in just under 34 minutes.
The succinct songwriting is full of meaty grooves and abrasive speed. Frontman Jamey Jasta widens his scope lyrically, tackling more exterior forces, including societal and religious issues, rather than encouraging you to merely eradicate your own internal demons.
If anything, what stands out about “The Concrete Confessional” is the pronounced old school influences that permeate it. The chorus of “From Grace We’ve Fallen” sounds like something you would hear on a hastily pressed 7″ in the 90’s. Ditto for the ‘whoa-oh’s’ that populate “The Apex Within“. “Something’s Off” meanwhile brings to mind the urbanized assault of bands like Biohazard and such before veering off into some unexpected Life Of Agony melodic territory.
Throughout the course of the record Hatebreed exude confidence, picking their targets and attacking them with the tenacity of a pit bull. As a body of work, it’s almost guaranteed to put sweat in bandanas as it is to increase gym gains.
The interesting angle here though, is to get to this point, the band seemingly cut back a number of elements from the modern world of metal. The beefed up influence of loose early 90’s thrash riffing, the scaled down rawer production and the fiercer hardcore-friendly choruses all point to a reinvigorated streamlining.
That’s not to say that the album is a rehash for Hatebreed themselves, but rather one that feels rooted in the inspiration that got them playing in the first place. Look no further than the echoing vocals in “Slaughtered In Their Dreams” and try not to think of Sepultura‘s “Territory” for further proof of that.
What’s lost amid this leaner, meaner Hatebreed isn’t so much the impetus for moshpit mayhem, but the larger, instantly memorable hooks. There’s ample room for fist pumps, breakdownss and callbacks, but only a few tracks here stand out with moments on par with the group’s past undeniable sing-alongs.
Sure it’s all as crushing and solid as ever, but not every square inch laid down here remains notable, with momentum sometimes overtaking the message.