The Concrete ConfessionalFeatured review by: UG Team, on may 16, 2016 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Hatebreed, one of the pioneering bands in the metalcore genre, have been making fiercely aggressive slabs of hardcore-influenced metal (or metal-influenced hardcore, depending on how you look at it) since 1997, well before a lot of the bands that are lumped into the metalcore genre these days were even ideas. Their sound has hardly changed at all since their debut album, "Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire," even though the metalcore genre has evolved around them, but don't take that as an anachronism, this band's mix of hardcore punk and brutal metal still sounds fresh after all these years, even if the sonic assault might not be to everyone's tastes.
Sonically speaking, the album has a pretty basic formula: chunky, aggressive guitar riffs matched to loud bass and drums, with very aggressive shouted vocals from founding member Jamey Jasta. You're not going to encounter any clean guitars, weird explorations of sound effects, epic song structures, or intricately-arranged pieces here. Guitar solos are few and far between on the record (only in the first single, "A.D." and the tune "Slaughtered in Their Dreams") and clean vocals are used extremely sparingly. Only one song on the album exceeds the three minute mark ("Something's Off"), and the album as a whole clocks in at a tad over half an hour long. Despite the brevity of the album, the lack of variety in the tones and song structures does make the album a bit of a difficult listen, but long-time Hatebreed fans are no doubt used to this, and will find a lot to enjoy about the album.
Founding members Jasta and bassist Chris Beattie are joined by long-time drummer Matt Byrne, who holds up the rhythm section quite well, and even though his playing is usually simple, he does get a chance to unleash some different beats on songs like "Walking the Knife" with a brief bit of blast beat action. Guitarists Frank Novinec and Wayne Lozinak lock together most of the time, but on occasion, there are brief bits of melody in the lead guitar parts, and a couple of brief but fleet-fingered solos. The tones on this album are aggressive and extremely basic, kind of a meat-and-potatoes guitar sound. But this is not a bad thing at all, as it really gets the job done at translating that aggressiveness to the listener. The bass is often locked in directly with the bass and drums, but once in a while the guitar will give way for the bass to breathe, and Chris Beattie's tone is huge and full. And when he's doing simple bass flourishes like in the final song, "Serve Your Masters," he really comes through loud and clear.
The production on the album is very loud, almost searing, and without any real dynamic range to speak of, but it's befitting of such an aggressively heavy band. The mixing creates a wall-of-sound effect, but it's still easy to hear the individual instruments through the maelstrom. With such a simple, meat-and-potatoes arrangement, there's no need for this album to be mixed any quieter, and that makes the production style extremely effective. However, I do wish the album had a bit more sonic variety, as it can be a bit of a painful listen, and the monotonous playing and singing style does mean that even at only 33 and a half minutes long, the album does have a bit of a tendency to drag on in the second half. But if you're already a Hatebreed fan, you already know what to expect, and will likely find this to not be a problem at all. // 7
Lyrics: Jamey Jasta is one pissed-off citizen. He pulls absolutely zero punches with his lyrics on this album, many of which describe the issues of being an American in this day and age, with all the greed and corruption and opulence among the political elite. Though this album is not entirely political, with tracks like "Remember When" showing more of an almost anti-nostalgic bent to them, about living life in the moment instead of reminiscing, or "Seven Enemies," which is just a pissed-off anthem with lyrics such as "Today is not the fucking day/I sympathize with their pain/Their negative ways/Giving birth to endless cries and complaints." But there are quite a few lyrics that touch on politics as well, with "A.D." (which, as Jamey has mentioned in interviews, may or may not stand for "American Dream") decrying the mainstream media along with the greed and corruption that goes along with it ("Turn on the TV for the murder spree/Get distracted while they take your civil liberty/Thoughts and prayers again, is that what it'll take? /Which industries profit while lives are at stake/Now hear the media fools discuss the killer's mind/Starring at the screen to tell us what they find/Manifesto, dollar, worship get on your knees/So they can sell us a cure for the American disease"), and even touches on the current state of the electoral race with the song "Us Against Us" ("Slaves to the screen/fanatics and thieves/discerned by the powers that be/when there's no one left to trust/it's us against us").
Jamey's singing style is based pretty much entirely on monotonous hardcore shouts, though there are brief sections of clean-ish singing (not quite beyond a hardcore shout, but with actual melodic notes being sung), and even some straight-up clean vocals on "Serve Your Masters." In a fashion almost like Meshuggah, the vocals seem to be treated almost as another rhythmic instrument rather than a melodic one, or even as a brutal sound layer like in a lot of death metal. Jasta's almost violent bark locks in perfectly with the drums and guitar riffs.
Again, the only issue I really take with the vocal performances on the album are the lack of variety. While there are a few melodic vocal parts, they're used so incredibly sparingly that they do little to break the monotony of the album. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, I found this album quite impressive, and it's definitely going to be one of the most mosh-worthy albums of the year. Combining a really simple set of ingredients to make a very emotional, visceral album, Hatebreed have stuck to doing what they do best, and that's created a damn fine example of metallic hardcore with "The Concrete Confessional." Politically-charged lyrics give a sense of depth and purpose to the album, and turn this into almost a protest record of sorts.
If you're a fan of chunky, heavy guitar riffs, aggressive hardcore vocals, simple arrangements, and pissed-off lyrics, you're going to find a lot to like on this record. And I can't think of very many bands that do such angry music as potent as this. If anger had a soundtrack, this band would be the ones scoring it. But as angry as this album is at, well, pretty much everything, it's not without purpose. Even in the song "A.D.," the band encourages listeners to "rethink this dream that they call American" so that "it can mean something real again" one day.
Hatebreed proves yet again that simplicity can be a very effective musical device on this album, and if you're a Hatrebreed fan, you really cannot go wrong with this record. Definitely going to recommend checking it out. // 7
The Concrete Confessional
cemerson2012, on may 17, 2016 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 8
Lyrics: 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." // 8
Overall Impression: 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! // 9