Welcome to Chuggington!
Chug. On this, US hardcore exponents Hatebreed’s seventh studio album, there are simply inhuman (or possibly inhumane) levels of chug. Every song carries layer upon layer of chugging guitars from Wayne Lozinak and Frank Novinec, sometimes to the point where even a grizzled old hardcore fan like me starts to think ‘so show me something else!’
Of course you go into a Hatebreed listening session knowing exactly what to expect, and on that level, The Concrete Confessional is an unmitigated success; Jamey Jasta rages, those axes grind out their Slayer-meets-Cro-Mags schtick – you know the drill…
…And on songs like closing track Serve Your Masters the whole thing clicks and any attention that had found itself wandering is knocked brutally back into line. Likewise opening tracks AD and the supremely aggressive Looking Down the Barrel of Today; The former is an utter rager, Jasta spitting out the lyrics aided and abetted by some fine gang vocals and drummer Matt Byrne’s best performance on the album, the latter a quasi-rap metal cruncher that Biohazard would have been proud of back in the day and again featuring a top-drawer vocal performance from mainman Jasta, both guaranteed to get pits starting wherever they are heard. But too often over the course of the rest of the album, the band seem just a bit too content to let things drift, or rather chug, along, waiting for inspiration to strike.
At the end of the day there’s nothing actively wrong with TCC, and you can see every track here sliding seamlessly into the band’s already incendiary live set. Fans are still going to love this – and quite rightly so, and haters are obviously still going to hate. But for those in the middle ground, there’s probably not quite enough of interest here to warrant closer inspection.