Sound — 8
Like death and taxes, you have an expectation when you encounter a Hatebreed record. Moshy, stompy, simple anthems. More breakdowns than a mental institution or the shoulder of a freeway. Positive lyrical assertions that invite and even demand singing along, delivered in the raspy, husky talking-singing voice of Jamey Jasta, who has established himself as the hardcore scene's ambassador. You can check off most of the items on that list, as they are all present and accounted for on Hatebreed. But things have been beefed up considerably. Perhaps it's the addition of new (and former) guitarist Wayne Lozniak; the guitars are more thought out and not as simplistic as before. Dare we say there is some shred (!!!) on a Hatebreed record? Well, there is on "Between Hell and a Heartbeat" and "Hands of a Dying Man." There are also moments on "In Ashes They Shall Reap" and "Through the Thorns" that are more like Kingdom of Sorrow, Jasta's side project with Crowbar's Kirk Windstein, thanks to their thick, sludgy stew of sounds. Honestly, those aren't expected and they are ambitious, but they do feel a wee bit out of place on a Hatebreed record. The band shines and excels when popping off short, sweet and utterly Cro-Magnon riffage and anthems. While they are to be applauded for not taking the road most travelled with this self-titled affair, some of these moments do need a GPS to reel them back into Hatebreed territory.
Lyrics — 7
Jasta's raspy snarl is still here. But he also sings like he did on the Kingdom of Sorrow record and as stated prior, those moments are probably best if they remain in the Kingdom of Sorrow sessions. It's strange to hear him attempt to sing on a Hatebreed record, especially 14 years into the band's career and it will jar Hatebreed diehards. Again, it's admirable and ambitious, but it's also not expected. But these are just a sprinkling of moments; for the most part, Jasta is in full Jasta mode, barking, pumping fists, encouraging the listener to think for himself and to rise above the general bullshit nonsense that can clutter our lives. That aspect of Hatebreed remains firmly and fully in tact.
Overall Impression — 8
So many bands pay lip service to not making the same record twice or over and over and over again ad naseum. Hatebreed didn't do that on Hatebreed, but they did drift a bit from what they do so well and the listener may have mixed emotions about the results. There's always something to be said for shaking things up and going against the waves in the whirlpool. It's going to be up to the individual Hatebreed fan to see how they react to the different tunes. It's only a few songs and the majority of the album is chant-drive, fraternal and communal HxCx.