People really hate Hatebreed. Fair enough. The hardcore outfit don’t leave much to the imagination and it’s been said that it’s only really necessary to own one of their records. Still though, they have a huge, incredibly dedicated fan base that spans the high and low lands of this planet. They are also two decades into a career that has kept them in the company of pretty much every big name in metal. That doesn’t happen without hard work. Even if the music itself is pretty one dimensional, it has heart. On their newest spin The Concrete Confessional, Jasta and co. plunder the high seas of hardcore with familiar riffs and exactly the same level of hostility as usual. It doesn’t suck either.
It makes sense that this record is out around the three year anniversary of Jeff Hanneman’s passing. The Slayer string shredder’s influence is quite surprisingly all over this. ALL over this. There are Hanneman style riffs in just about every track here. Take the main riff from “Walking The Knife” and the verse groove from “Something’s Off”, slap them into a later era Slayer track and they would match up perfectly. What does that say about the relationship between thrash and hardcore? Who knows. Someone else at Heavy Blog will be far more accustomed to working that kind of thing out. Over this side of the Atlantic, it just makes for some pleasing, crushing moments from a band that isn’t revered around these parts to say the least. Going back to “Something’s Off” – the highlight reel track of Hatebreed’s discography – and it’s apparent why this doesn’t suck as much as some might expect. There’s a vicious whip and snap to this track, even some tastefully inserted cleaner vocals. Whoddathunkit?
At it’s ignorant best, The Concrete Confessional never stops fronting. There’s attitude all over this. It’s corny but the mantra of “Looking Down The Barrel Of Today” is kind of bad ass, in all fairness; “now the world is my trigger and I’m here to fucking pull it” – sick. The line is probably the best thing about what is an atypical Hatebreed track but it’s fun and pretty much the smartest thing Jasta has written. The flip side of the ignorance on display is that it manages to get lost in transit along the remaining run time. Some woeful, weak gang vocals and “ohhh, ohhh, ohhh” chants don’t help the slightly weak production. The guitars churn and chug along with a bass that gets to show off once or twice during the thirty minute endurance chug, but they don’t sound nasty enough. There’s clarity between chords and riffs and the guitar tone doesn’t differ whatsoever. It’s the same crunchy, processed tone that a band this big can afford to recreate live. It just isn’t very good.
Hatebreed exist in a part of the music community that thrives on push pits and open string grooves. Fans don’t require ground to be broken when a new album drops. It never will. It’s just a given that this is the kind of music to be expected from this band and they do it just as good as any other. For all of its highlights, The Concrete Confessional is another Hatebreed album for Hatebreed fans. Saved by the fun moments, this record still doesn’t do much to alleviate any concerns regarding where this band might be headed. They’re headed for the pit, by the way.