Album Review: Hatebreed – Weight Of The False Self

Album Review: Hatebreed - Weight Of The False Self
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

When I realised it’s been four years since the release of The Concrete Confessional, I thought Hatebreed had gone all-Chinese Democracy on us. But a little research shows this gap between albums is parr for the course for the Connecticut band and it is their prolific touring schedules and near-constant presence on the live circuit that makes them appear more active in the studio.

One of the very, very few advantages of the lack of live performances in 2020 is the chance for Hatebreed to remain in one place for long enough to record a new album. Weight of the False Self is the band’s eight studio effort and demonstrates the precision honed from all those live performances.

All the expected Hatebreed tropes are here: the thick, beefy guitar riffs, the adrenaline-fuelled drumming, the beatdowns, the gang vocals and Jasta’s lyrical take on the world. Packed with metal riffs and hardcore vocals, Hatebreed are the point on the Ven diagram where Kerry King’s guitar and Scott Vogel’s voice intersect.

Album Review: Hatebreed - Weight of the False SelfThe arguments about what genre Hatebreed are have become futile at this point. Some have said they are too hardcore for the Metal scene, other have stated vice-versa, but the reality of it is that Hatebreed owe as big a debt for their sound to Entombed and Celtic Frost as they do to Earth Crisis and Agnostic Front.

On Weight of the False Self Hatebreed have not sought to reinvent their wheel, rather to play to their not-inconsiderable strengths. The band know their audience expectations and show up with a one-two-three of big, in your face tracks; like a boxer using the early rounds to soften up an opponent.

To continues the boxing analogy Hatebreed come out for rounds four to six having changed their stance. The title track, Cling to Life and A Stroke of Red are slower, more measured versions of the band’s style. Still maintaining that thick central sound but presenting it in a controlled way, adding a more traditional sense to the proceedings through classic riffage and some unexpected soloing.

Lyrically, Jasta doesn’t so much spit bile as preach personal responsibility and self-reliance. Set It Right (Start with Yourself), Dig Your Own Way and This I Earned are fairly self-explanatory titles, while the overarching theme of Weight of the False Self – as with all of Hatebreed’s catalogue – is that of keeping a positive mental attitude.

For its second half, the album seamlessly mixes the metallic with the hardcore until, after thirty-some-odd minutes, you’re left in a bludgeoned state of submission but ready to start it all over again.

Weight of the False Self is a dozen tracks, any of which can and will become live favourites and future pit classics. The way Hatebreed organise their live sets it is more than likely all twelve will be played live at some point and all twelve are just gasping to be the soundtrack to a mass of flailing bodies.

Hatebreed undoubtedly have their critics, most of whom tend to be keyboard warriors regurgitating someone else’s opinion or self-appointed gatekeepers who see themselves as defenders of the pure. Each to their own, of course; but Hatebreed are a brutal metal/ hardcore hybrid, a machine designed to destroy, and Weight of the False Self is their latest, devastating, set of instructions.

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