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HATESPHERE New Hell

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Thursday, April 14, 2016 @ 1:39 PM


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HATESPHERE
New Hell

Massacre Records




Despite line-up changes too numerous to count – including three lead vocalists – and only one remaining original member in guitarist Peter "Pepe" Hansen, Holland's HATESPHERE has been doling out dependable thrash/death metal for 15 years. New Hell, which has actually been out since November in Europe but just arrived in February in the states – marks HATESPHERE's ninth album and finds the band benefiting from a period of relative stability.

The five members here have played on HATESPHERE's last three albums, and the quintet has gelled rather nicely. HATESPHERE takes the full-frontal assaultiveness of THE HAUNTED, the tightly wound riffiness and vocal snarl of AT THE GATES and the occasional loping grooves of TESTAMENT, and cranks it out with gusto. The band’s blue-collar bombast doesn't attempt anything too fancy or daring here – not that that's a bad thing. Instead, it brings the hammer down again and again.

At its best, New Hell is a ferocious, efficient outing. It certainly gets off to an effectively rousing start with the bracing “The Executioner” and “Lines Crossed, Lives Lost” powered by the d-beat tempos of Mike Nielsen and Hansen and Jakob Nyholm's strafing guitars. Even better, and more brutal, is “Your Sad Existence” a couple tracks later and “Human Cesspool” near the end that add a little more complexity and velocity. “Master Of Betrayal”, on the other hand, eases off the gas a wee bit, but adds crafty and quite catchy hooks for some extra crunch, ditto the more anthemic “Head On A Spike”, which offers nifty tandem guitar leads and a shout-along chorus for good measure.

HATESPHERE is definitely a band that thrives on energy and aggression, and the up-tempo tracks here are delivered with a natural vigor that can be quite contagious, especially when topped by Esse Hansen's emphatic drill sergeant yowl. If you're looking to psych yourself up for something, you could do a lot worse than this. It'll get your ass in gear for whatever.

The mid-tempo tunes on New Hell, including the title track, don't quite have the same oomph! and fall a bit flat in the overall context, even if they do help provide some variety. The IN FLAMES-like “The Longest Haul”, with its lumbering pace and calculated groove, feels leaden and drab. The album's finale, “The Grey Mass” is arguably the most adventurous track here but ends up a jumble of brood and bluster. The aforementioned title track definitely has some chug to it, but is otherwise just kind of meh!

But none of these are outright terrible, and all still pack quite a wallop thanks to the big, brash production from Tue Madsen that makes the entire album a thunderous affair. The strengths of New Hell far outweigh — and overpower — its weaknesses. And while you can fault HATESPHERE for rarely straying from its sonic comfort zone, you have to also give the band credit for honing the sound it has to maximize its impact. New Hell will certainly leave a dent.

3.5 Out Of 5.0

Grab your copy of New Hell in the KNAC.COM More Store right HERE.


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