Sound — 8
With a long anticipated follow up to 2013's "Divinity of Purpose," New England hardcore giants Hatebreed returned to the studio in the Spring of 2016 and released "The Concrete Confessional" on Friday the 13th of May (pretty good day for a hardcore release if I do say so myself). The album features 13 tracks with a runtime just over 32 minutes. "The Concrete Confessional" was produced by Chris "Zeuss" Harris. All songs say for one are less than 3 minutes in length, but what the tracks lack in length they make up for in crushing riffs, technical drumming and aggressive yet seemingly positive lyrics from vocalist Jamey Jasta.
On March 23, 2016, a video was released via Youtube and Facebook detailing Hatebreed's upcoming album by revealing the cover art, track listing and release date. The trailer features several snippets of three songs from the album, these being "A.D.," "Looking Down the Barrel of Today" and "The Apex Within." This teaser video certainly set expectations very high for die hards (like myself) who have been hungry for new material. Videos for "Looking Down the Barrel of Today" and "A.D." were released shortly before the release of the record as well giving promise that the new record would satisfy the fans need for the mosh.
The record starts with the song titled "A.D." On the lyrical themes surrounding the opening track "A.D.," lead vocalist Jamey Jasta stated that the song "Was a way that I could voice my frustration about the loss of opportunities available to the average guy. With the government and big business drowning in corruption and greed, the average person is being squeezed, so achieving the American dream is becoming less and less real." The track gets the album started with a resounding bang and also sets the stage for the rest of the record. The bridge section is among the heaviest in the Hatebreed catalog, and also has a fantastic message beckoning the listener to re-examine their American Dream. "Looking down the Barrel of Today" is next up, and there is no break for the listener to even catch their breath. Again, you can tell that Jasta is fueled by fury but is able to funnel his rage into something positive. "No sleep, No rest, If that what it takes to be the best" is the resounding theme for the track and that giving up or letting loose of the reigns is not an option. The group vocals are used in such a way that the overall message of the song is driven to the forefront. Throughout the record there are a number of guitar fills expertly written and performed. Dare I say that they are Slayeresque? Not saying that it is a bad thing, but they sound like they would fit well in some of the newer Slayer material.
The recording and sound quality are certainly above average. It's obvious from the first track that the band spent a lot of time on making the sound as crisp as possible. I have listened to the record through headphones, car stereo, and my iPhone speaker; all of which have sounded absolutely fantastic. Not one instrument outshines the over. Drums are something that a lot of time make or break a records overall sound for me, but "The Concrete Confessional" has an excellent balance of drum, bass and guitar sound. As for the guitar tone, it is typical Hatebreed. Les Paul's and Marshal amps; it's simple but incredibly effective. Jasta's vocals as always are on point. He even ventures into a realm of "clean screaming" rarely heard in Hatebreed releases. The band are tried and true in the studio, and that really shows. All around the sound is really a great mix of the "Divinity of Purpose" and "Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire." It's obvious the band tried to fix some of that "old school hardcore" sound. The shorter songs as well hearken to an age where hardcore was all about the aggression crammed into a brief song. In my opinion, the band nailed it. Old school feel with a mixed bag of new.
Lyrics — 8
Jamey Jasta does another fantastic job on the mic. The progression from releases like "Rise of Brutality" and "Perseverance" are notable in "Something's Off" for one. He ventures into some new territory with a "clean scream." His screams have became so clear, I no longer need to look at the notes to understand every lyric, and I think a new listener could easily understand the words without issue. I think that is the best thing about Hatebreed. Their message is aggressive yet incredibly positive, but anyone can listen and instantly understand them. "A.D." is another track that has a great message. From the first listen, you can understand exactly what is being communicated. "Apex Within" is another highlight vocally for me, as it hearkens to a past generation of hardcore with some cool "Whoa's" like you'd hear in a Bad Religion song. Also one of my favorite lines in the entire record is "Wolves don't lose sleep over the cries of sheep, they awake bearing teeth."
Overall Impression — 9
Overall "The Concrete Confessional" in my opinion is 100 percent what I was wanting in a new Hatebreed record. The band nailed every aspect of what makes a great modern hardcore record, and the work put in is obvious from beginning to end. A lot of times it takes me a few listens to appreciate a new record, but "The Concrete Confessional" has been a favorite of mine from listen number 1 and will continue to be for a long time to come. I'd suggest it to any fan of heavy music. It will be in my workout playlist every day for sure. I pre-ordered the record on iTunes but I'd pay the 9.99 again if I had to. Buy this record, support the musicians, go see them live and get your mosh on!