ALBUM REVIEW: Hatebreed, “The Concrete Confessional”

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Hatebreed and I have a long history together. I first heard of them when they released their Perseverance album in 2002, and have been a diehard fan ever since. I’ve seen them perform literally about a dozen times, including the infamous Live Dominance DVD shoot at Harpos in Detroit. The song “Perseverance” has been a personal anthem of mine ever since I first heard it, and I even played “This Is Now” to a court-mandated rehab group I was in back when The Rise Of Brutality came out, since I was so inspired by the song.

Hatebreed started out like many hardcore bands in the late 1990’s, blending a hardcore punk ethos and sound with the heaviness and grooves of metal. Over each subsequent album, they have gravitated more and more to a stripped down metal sound, but still keep the PMA (positive mental attitude) inspired lyrics. I always thought that listening to a Hatebreed album did more for me than all the years of therapy did, and was certainly a lot more exciting.

Now it’s 2016, and Hatebreed has been at it for about 20 years now. With their latest album The Concrete Confessional, released May 13th 2016 on Nuclear Blast, they haven’t reinvented the proverbial wheel, but they have stuck to their core sound while throwing in the occasional surprise to keep things interesting.

The album opens up with A.D., which is a blistering indictment on the society we live in, with some Slayer inspired riffing at about the 2 minute mark. Seven Enemies is as brutal as anything they’ve written, and the chorus of “I wish a motherf****r would try” will undoubtedly fire up the mosh pits when they perform it live. In The Walls sounds like it could have come off the Perseverance album, with its two-step drumming and the breakdown at the end. The beginning of From Grace We’ve Fallen is reminiscent of As Diehard As They Come (from the Supremacy album), and is just as catchy.

Us Against Us, possibly inspired by Bad Brains’ “I Against I” or Sick Of It All’s “Us Vs. Them”, is another two-stepper and two-minute beast of a song. Remember When is a lyrical middle finger to the past, and even breaks into thrash metal territory. The Apex Within opens with some old-school “WHOAAA’S” and has a Cro-Mags vibe to it. Serve Your Masters, the album closer, picks up where A.D. left off with its angular riffing and diatribes against the self-inflicted “masters” that control the lives of many.

Jamey Jasta (vocalist) straight up sounds pissed throughout this album. Even more so than usual. He doesn’t rely as much on cliched hardcore “I’ll be there for you” lyrics as he has in the past, except for the otherwise great Looking Down The Barrel Of Today. Musically, Hatebreed sounds as heavy as ever, and the production is excellent, with longtime producer Zeuss behind the boards.

This is arguably Hatebreed’s best album since Supremacy, and is definitely one of their heaviest albums: lyrically, musically, and thematically. If you are already a Hatebreed fan, then you will instantly love it, and fans of heavy music in general should find plenty of moments on The Concrete Confessional to keep them floorpunching and fist pumping.

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