Sound — 8
Hatebreed have built a career upon chugga-chugga, knuckle-dragger mosh metal and hardcore, so covering bands like Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Madball, Black Flag, Misfits, Agnostic Front and Sick of It All doesn't defy anyone's expectations nor do these choices come as any sort of surprise. It's not like fans and followers were wondering if the band would go polka! However, with the exception of the it makes total sense rendition of Danzig and company's Hatebreeders, from which they took their name, the Breed doesn't cover obvious, overly popular songs by their heroes. Instead, they go for deeper cuts in most cases; Slayer's "Ghosts of War," Metallica's "Escape," Cro-Mags' "It's the Limit," Sick of It All's "Shut Me Out" and Bad Brains' "Supertouch" illustrate the band's creativity to think outside the confines of their established comfort zone a bit and interpret a spate of off-the-beaten-path songs. So while remaining forever true to their influences, Hatebreed also shake things up a bit by picking not-so-hackneyed songs to re-imagine. That is, they're not covering the same songs everyone else is. Did we really need another cover of Pantera's "Walk"? Sure, it's one of the most important songs in the metal canon, but there's no reason to go there again and Hatebreed doesn't. Hatebreed are also worthy of two very enthusiastic thumbs up for attempting a throaty version of Obituary's deathy "I'm in Pain" and Crowbar's sludgefest, "All I Had (I Gave)," as these bands/tunes are a little outside of the 'Breed's normal territory. A spot-on re-do of Madball's Set it Off is fun and a hoot, since Madball and Hatebreed are so sonically similar; it makes us want to hear Freddy and crew cover one of Hatebreed's songs on record in return.
Lyrics — 9
Since it's an album of covers, not much can be said about the lyrics, since they are someone else's. That said, Jamey Jasta and Hatebreed selected songs that fall in line and somewhat fit with Hatebreed's positive, life-affirming message. Jasta's uber-raspy, talk-yell-bark vocals are distinct as a fingerprint, and they are as robust as ever on "For the Lions." It's refreshing to hear him attempt different patterns and range with his aforementioned versions of Obituary's death metal diregery or a Crowbar, NOLA sludge rocker. The fact that Jasta is in Kingdom of Sorrow with Crowbar's Kirk Windstein isn't lost on us, either; that probably gave him the boost to cover the song. Jasta's voice is gnarlier than usual on Cro-Mags' "It's the Limit" and he adheres to the growly cadence on Sepultura's "Refuse/Resist."
Overall Impression — 9
Covers albums are what they are: a band's love letter to the bands, songs, albums and musicians who inspired them to start their own band and to make their own music. By nature, they're usually self-indulgent affairs, but that doesn't lessen their impact. These types of releases allow a band to be vulnerable and be fans again by demonstrating their love for other music. Even in the brutal metal world, it's a healthy, worthwhile gesture for a band. As for being an investment for a fan? That depends on the depth of your diehardness. Hatebreed are proud to show off their inspiration with "For the Lions," which roars throughout and bares it's fangs much the way that Hatebreed does with their original songs. The songs hover close to the originals, but never dangerously so. Hatebreed does, in fact, Hatebreed'ify these tunes. So the most tried and true Hatebreed fans will absolutely adore this collection of covers.