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Hatesphere - "The Great Bludgeoning" (CD)

Hatesphere - "The Great Bludgeoning" CD cover image

"The Great Bludgeoning" track listing:

1. The Killer
2. Venom
3. Smell Of Death
4. Decayer
5. The Wail Of My Threnode
6. Resurrect With A Vengeance
7. The Great Bludgeoning
8. Need To Kill
9. Devil In Your Own Hell

Reviewed by on October 5, 2011

"'It won't reinvent the genre, but it boldly cements its makers' vicious brand.'"

It’s hard not to listen to a band like Hatesphere and at least feel a slight shiver of intimidation – the unease you might feel when eavesdropping on your abusive neighbor as he’s threatening his trembling wife with a beer bottle clenched in one hand and a lead pipe in the other. There’s something about the volatile combination of thrash and death metal that produces such vulnerable apprehension, unlike the (I can’t believe I’m saying this) safety of absurd, cartoonish death (Cannibal Corpse) or stoic, seasoned thrash (Testament). That feeling is present in spades on “The Great Bludgeoning,” along with a subliminal message from Hatesphere ordering me to man up and absorb what they intended all along in its brutally violent glory.

Now seven albums deep and refreshingly resilient from a lengthy string of lineup changes, Hatesphere seems to be in fine form. As the sole original member – and thus the Gary Holt-strength epoxy bonding the whole outfit together – guitarist Pepe Hansen keeps the band’s vicious riff attack charging. Adding bark to his instrumental bite is gruff new frontman Esse Hansen, who contributes more than a dose of classic hardcore machismo to the mix. Musically, “The Great Bludgeoning” tips its hand with its... subtle title, and is pretty much everything you’ve been led to expect from Hatesphere.

Lead track “The Killer” foregoes any sort of gentle buildup and wastes no time in loosing a sonic assault on the senses, “Reign In Blood” style. In a deft reversal of structural trends, second cut “Venom” cools things off with a “Battery” inspired acoustic opening, which introduces some slow, melodic riffing before launching into attack mode again. From here on out, the band stays firmly lodged in the throes of metal thrashing madness, pausing only to give the engines a rest on melodic interlude “The Wail Of My Threnode” and slowing down to take a tight curve on the lumbering mid-paced “Resurrect With A Vengeance.” Admittedly, much of this stuff tends to run together, and the band wisely avoids most of the resulting repetition by limiting this album to nine average-length tracks. Like a deranged Willie Horton gone metal, Hatesphere may add some spice to your life by barging into your house, having their way with your spouse, and forcing you to watch – but like chivalrous rapists, they know when enough is enough.

Like their fellow Danes in Raunchy, Mnemic, and The Arcane Order, the ranks of Hatesphere are shrewd genre mixers that manage to narrowly avoid allowing their otherwise accessible music to be easily pigeonholed. The blending of multiple extreme metal genres, together with sparkling production sheen, gives the band an identity at once current and timeless. They’re not trying to “be” anyone but Hatesphere, and while “The Great Bludgeoning” won’t reinvent the genre, it boldly cements its makers’ vicious brand.

Highs: Well-executed modern death/thrash with stellar production and a dangerous vibe.

Lows: The album's brevity barely saves the metal onslaught from neutering itself into blandness, suggesting that the band's best work may still lie ahead.

Bottom line: A fine extreme metal album that makes up for a slight lack of imagination with a bracing blast of genuine aggression.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)