Written by: AP on 06/10/2013 19:28:16

Hatesphere are, in my opinion, the Danish equivalent of Slayer; a band with a fixed formula whose fans can always count on consistency, but never on innovation. Such a static approach to writing music need not be a disadvantage, however, as both Slayer and Hatesphere continue to show; as long as their recorded output is familiar and uncompromising, the mere experience built by honing that one style over decades will ensure that finding weaknesses in their music becomes increasingly difficult with each subsequent release. That is, if a lack of progression by itself can be considered acceptable. In a way, it is surprising and indeed commendable that on their eigth studio album "Murderlust", Hatesphere's music still resembles their earliest output, given that lead guitarist Peter 'Pepe' Lyse Hansen remains the only original member, with the rest having joined between 2007 and 2011.

What he also remains, is the band's engine and primary songsmith, and as such the down-tuned shredding (or, as Hatesphere like to dub it in their native Danish, tråd), intense tempo and no-nonsense approach of the opening pair "Murderlust" and "Pandora's Hell" should sound fairly familiar. These songs are symptomatic of the band's if it ain't broke, don't fix it philosophy that has only rarely been broken (most notably by the experimental material on "Serpent Smiles & Killer Eyes" (2007), former vocalist Jacob Bredahl's final contribution to Hatesphere); a philosophy, which both benefits the band in the sense that their fans know exactly what they're going to get (searing thrash/death metal) and are likely to find it to be in accordance with their taste; and hinders them because 12 years and eight studio albums later, the style and sound has long since become dated, trite and repetitive. On recent albums, and particularly so here, the redeeming capability to make such songs memorable at the very least, has also sadly begun to wither.

With "Fear Me", Hatesphere do tinker with a new set of influences, and the track's slow, dark and doom ridden atmosphere is a welcome shift in direction on an album, which from the very outset threatens to engage the autopilot. Though not quite as blackened, the piece reminds me of the band's countrymen By the Patient and, during its double-pedal driven section around the 04:30 mark, Sepultura at their darkest and most extreme. "The Violent Act" features a chorus which, under the metallic circumstances, sounds almost anthemic, by virtue of an uplifting lead accentuating the higher notes of vocalist Esben 'Esse' Hansen's growling in such a way as to come across nigh on clean. Elsewhere, too; in the likes of "Punishable by Death" and "Iconoclast", Hatesphere showcase their best sides - the infinity of razor sharp riffs and the searing intensity with which those are delivered; but my overwhelming impression is that I've heard all of this before, and in better renditions on the band's earlier material (particularly that found on my personal favorites "Bloodred Hatred" (2002) and "The Sickness Within" (2005)).

So while from a technical standpoint all is in order on "Murderlust", the band seem to have driven their steadfast approach to a blind alley. Granted: pick virtually any song off the album and you've got the soundtrack to a chaotic moshpit. But one is left wishing Hatesphere would abandon the perpetual... well, murderlust; and put more emphasis on writing songs in the vein of "Fear Me" - the standout track here. Hatesphere comprise musicians with immense talent and experience, so it is a damn shame to see it spilt into such an anonymous, unambitious piece of music.


Download: Fear Me, The Violent Act, Iconoclast
For the fans of: Carnal Forge, Cataract, The Haunted (pre-"Versus" era)
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.09.2013
Massacre Records

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