New Hell

Written by: AP on 25/01/2016 21:05:28

Formed in 1998, the 17-year existence of Hatesphere has yielded no less than nine studio albums, two EPs, one split 7” with the Korean metalcore group Remnants of the Fallen, and a status as something of a domestic metal institution. What is remarkable is that across that time, the band’s line-up has been shuffled beyond recognition, yet their sound has stood firm and resilient against the winds of change, with only the tiniest of variations discernible between 2001’s self-titled debut and this latest piece from 2015, “New Hell”. In Denmark at least, the group remains popular as ever, though owing perhaps more to their ferocious concerts than any recorded output since the landmark ”Sickness Within” over a decade ago. As such the title “New Hell” is a bit misleading, as there is nothing new beneath the sun; the groovy and intense fusion of death metal and thrash continues to be applied with extreme prejudice.

The group’s proficiency at plying this trade is never in question. But while the music is relatively easy to digest, it offers little excitement; it has this anaesthetising quality of providing headbanging opportunities aplenty and appealing to a metalhead’s basic needs, yet because of their archetypical nature, songs like… well, let’s say virtually anything in the record’s first half gloriously fails at leaving a lasting imprint on the memory. One must stretch the patience past the midway instrumental track “On the Shores of Hell” to discover a semblance of what made the aforementioned “Sickness Within”, as well as my personal favourite “Bloodred Hatred” from 2002 such good albums. The real standout moments here are distilled into a trident comprising “New Hell”, “Master of Betrayal” and “Human Cesspool”, each of which resists the urge to just floor the pedal and be as punishing as possible. It is hard to deny how attractively the title track grooves in the verse with a dense The Haunted-school riff, or how effortlessly it becomes ingrained once Peter Lyse Hansen lets rip with one of his signature melodies and Esben Hansen chimes in with the chorus, ”You never thought you would fail. This is your new hell! Lift the talebearing veil. This is your new hell!”, shifting his vocalisation from pure growling and closer toward actual singing. This is textbook Hatesphere, but by firing off the full extent of their arsenal, you are reminded why this band is still so revered by so many.

“Master of Betrayal” offers its share of variety by verging into At the Gates-y, late 90’s melodic death metal, mustering up catchy staccato riffs and a nigh anthemic chorus in ”You consider me so, so cynical. You’re obviously blind if you find me credible. Setting sail, I bid farewell. I’m no petty traitor — I’m the master of betrayal”, before decelerating into a grandiose, harmonised bridge and guitar solo near the end. “Human Cesspool” thereafter, wins by virtue of its sounding absolutely brutal despite the profusion of eerie melodic notes, and by managing seamlessly to make lasting matter of its meaty main riff. And look, the remaining seven tracks still have what it takes to rage in the live setting. My objection stems from the fact that there is little beyond simple headbanging appeal about them; nothing to get me off the stool, just listening to them at home. Hatesphere is masterful at producing solid, tolerable soundtracks for satisfying your weekly moshing requirements — not once during the 41 minutes the record runs are you likely to think, ”Well, that is just awful.” — but they take so few risks it often turns frustrating, knowing what abilities the musicians responsible possess. So if quality death/thrash has a nice ring to you, by all means. Just don’t expect a revolution.


Download: New Hell, Master of Betrayal, Human Cesspool
For the fans of: The Crown, Dew-Scented, The Haunted
Listen: Facebook

Release date 20.11.2015
Massacre Records

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