The Concrete Confessional
Nuclear Blast Records
By Robin X Steeley (RS11)

Hailing from Connecticut, Hatebreed has come a long way since they got their start in the East Coast underground scene. This is their 7th studio album but they are new to the mighty Nuclear Blast label.  The Concrete Confessional was released in late May to much acclaim as the band departed on a worldwide tour in support of the record.  Since 1994, in the spirit of fierce determination and steadfast belief in themselves coupled with a hard work ethic, Hatebreed have never stopped being pioneers; not just in their genre of music, but as a hard working example for any band.  They have steadily risen with every release; and The Concrete Confessional is no different. In late 2015 the band entered the studio to record with well-known Producer Zeuss (Soulfly, Suicide Silence, White Chapel) and began to fuse together the musical elements that would become this album. They brought back their signature sound which was conveyed full throttle during the mix with Josh Wilbur (Lamb Of God, Megadeth.)  The music itself is pure Hatebreed, devastatingly heavy and laced with confrontational lyrical messages that will make even the numbest disciple begin to think again.
Opening track and first single, “A.D.” is just over three minutes of unadulterated fist pumping fury! Racing right into The Concrete Confessional, to call this song fast paced is an understatement! Throw in some blistering guitar riffs and chugging breakdowns and you have the perfect Hatebreed formula.  Fusing the frustration of American’s with a barrage of thrash metal, hardcore, double bass and with Jasta’s ferocious growls intertwined, they create something worth getting back in the pit for.  This music puts a spotlight on the frustration and loss of opportunities given the average human.  With a government seemingly over run with corruption and greed, this tune gives a voice to a generation of defeat.  In a fusion of intense guitars and fiery vocals, the band dissects what being American means. It turns the focus to where it should be – our own personal responsibility. “AD” is fast, brutal, and memorable, an excellent first track with an uncomfortable message; the total destruction of the American Dream.
The second track is equally anthemic in quality, with beastly grooves and thoughtful lyrics.  It has a way of pumping you up, but in a constructive angry way, if you can imagine the possibility that anger, rage, and positive energy can all exist at once, it does here. It’s an encouragement to continue to rise and face the day, regardless of what life throws at you. “Looking Down The Barrel of Today” is that collision; it is an anthem for the self.  Next is “Seven Enemies,” so bass heavy it chugs along and I find myself lying in wait for the breakdown. The song is a take on the Seven Deadly Sins, and how they can lead us all on a path to destruction. It’s about the vices in our lives and how we face them. It’s one of those songs that while short, will keep the circle moving furiously, it has that driving rhythm and ferocious energy.
Next up is “In The Walls” which might be a touch heavier, with some omnipotent guitar riffing expertly delivered, its punk tinged, but still hardcore at its finest.  This is relatable, fast, heavy, uncompromising, and reminiscent of old school Hatebreed. “From Grace We’ve Fallen” has brilliant dynamics; I particularly like the crisp mix on this song. The vocals are sickening here, perfectly enhancing Jasta’s techniques.  “Us Against Us” is so fast, furious and thrashingly good you will forget you’re listening to a hardcore band. The guitars again are excellent here, and the gang chants imbedded just where needed.  Almost too fast to even register the vocals “When there’s no one left to trust, its US Against US!” and then that breakdown. It’s a simple enough formula, but so freaking good it’s pioneered a legion of fans.
“Something’s Off” starts with a deep low end bassline and drives right into the song, bouncing right along a killer guitar groove and inspired chant, I think this might be my favorite off this effort. There’s a climactic build here that will leave waiting for more at the end. “Making something meaningless seem significant.” Chanted in a way you will never forget, with clean singing thrown in for good measure, I love the subtleties of this song and it highlights both Jasta’s inspired delivery and writing skills. This song showcases his range in a way I haven’t heard previously, and lyrically the song is poetic, written about anxiety, the feeling of being out of control, something so relatable to many in the general unease that exists in the world today. “Slaughtered In Their Dreams” is dark and heavy, maybe the heaviest metal offering on this release, and with its catchy chorus it still contains a bone chilling message. This is a soul baring Shame-on-America diatribe against the evils of humanity. 
“Apex Within” has a punk flavored vibe before kicking in heavy, written about choosing in life whether you are the predator or the prey. “Walking The Knife” comes from an intensely dark place, one of addiction and numbness. The need to take risks and life’s desperate search for feeling is incorporated, it’s a call to battle, a desperate cry for relentless release.  “Dissonance” is, as its title indicates, a song about SOUND.  It’s about noise and its effect on us, in society, and in music. I also loved “Serve Your Masters” which is equally dark and invitingly heavy. This is a pure mash of electric energy that will capture you as a whole and lead you down a road of inspiration. “Serve Your Masters” is a strong finale, a fist pumping; horns high old school anthem.  In the same vein as the rest of the tracks here, it speaks of making decisions to be in control of your destiny; of your life. No matter what you take from the words and sonic offering here, this is an epic finish. 
With a headlining spot at almost all the major festivals, worldwide fans, and a Grammy Award nomination, Hatebreed is no stranger to fame. With their last release, The Divinity of Purpose, the band toured relentlessly in support of that effort, slowing only to go back into the studio. Working with Zeuss helped the band redefine their signature sound, and they managed to retain the essence of what they are most remembered for.

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