New releases from crossover legends Hatebreed are rarely disappointing. Often accused of not progressing enough, they are actually one of the few long-standing bands that can be counted on to repeatedly deliver on their promise: an unapologetic, furious and fiercely catchy cluster of tracks that perfectly and pit-worthily marry metal with hardcore. Boasting a Grammy nomination, a covers album, movie soundtracks, solo spin-offs and, more recently, a CNN statement withdrawal (and apology!) for the baffling accusation of them being a “white power band” earlier this year, it is safe to say that Hatebreed are at a fairly comfortable stage in their career.
Yet, while there is a reliable formula to their sound, their songwriting still feels fresh and from the heart, and with this new release they have tweaked and challenged their style just enough to show they are still deeply dedicated to their cause.
The Divinity Of Purpose will be the band’s sixth official album to date. It is the follow-up to Hatebreed’s last self-titled album and covers album, For The Lions, and the lineup remains just as it was in 2009, including original guitarist Wayne Lozinak and Frank Novinec wielding the axes. Co-produced by Hatebreed, Zeuss (Suicide Silence, All That Remains) and Josh Wilbur (Lamb Of God, Avenged Sevenfold), the recording sees as clean an arrangement as ever, but there seems to be a more caustic vocal tone and gritty determination to this album that suggests the band may have released the brakes and let rip a bit more this time around. In fact, the overall feel is of an record that has been built to be performed live.
Tracks like Before The Fight Ends You and Own Your World are just begging for a pit to open up and the barked chorus and gang shouts in The Language will have fans throwing their fists in the air from here to Connecticut and back. Elements of their first two albums, Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire and Perseverance, can be heard throughout but, interestingly, the hardcore moments sound purer than they have in recent years, and there is also a nostalgic old-school metal influence woven throughout, most noticeable in the pleasingly indulgent, uplifting guitar solos that raise their head occasionally.
Boundless (Time To Murder) takes things a step too far and its melodic chorus seems strangely out of character, but highlights like Honor Never Dies easily make up for this with tense, riff-fuelled dynamics and sternly pronounced, inspiring lyrics. In fact, Jamey Jasta’s vocals are more powerful than ever and take on a particularly passionate, raspy tone in Dead Man Breathing, a track that pays serious homage to Slayer with its opening fretwork. Ever the champions of two distinct musical styles, though, Indivisible is a reminder of Hatebreed’s continued appreciation for bands like Sick Of It All.
The Divinity Of Purpose has nudged this band forward without jeopardising their core values and thanks to this, combined with strong anthems and powerful vocal leadership, it feels fresh, fierce, and fervently ‘Hatebreed’.