Thoughts of European Thrash metal always immediately include the Danish metalers HateSphere, their presence, status and contribution nearing legendary level. Since being formed in 2000 by guitarist Peter “Pepe” Hansen the band has been at the forefront of the genre pushing limits, setting new boundaries, and dropping a pace for others to keep up with. The end of September sees the band return with their seventh album The Great Bludgeoning via Napalm Records, a release once again cementing the quintets place as one of the leading forces in thrash metal.
The band’s previous 2009 album To The Nines set a distinct mark earning deserved acclaim worldwide for its power and quality. The Great Bludgeoning follows with equal devastation and satisfaction, a full force heavy riff machine loaded with additive pummelling rhythms and infectious engaging melodies. The album is also the first recording with new vocalist Esben Hansen and bassist Jimmy Nedergaard (Gob Squad) who joined May of this year, additions that brings new aspects to the band’s sound without diminishing their trademark aural intensity. They both add a new distinct spice to the music, especially in Hansen with a more controlled delivery than heard before with Joller Albrechtsen. Though the sound has an old school feel their additional flavours do push the band in a newer direction, one certainly with more seeming variation. The band commented on the new album: “We have aimed the new album in a more old-school direction than its predecessor. With people this experienced joining the band it has been a very relaxed and enjoyable process to write the songs, and we have all agreed on the concept: More metal and everything that follows. The cover, the title and the lyrics speaks for themselves. We are an angry-sounding metal band, and we have no intention of denying that. That’s why the cover is more back-to-the-roots and the lyrics are again about aggressions, drinking and hate, the things that HateSphere has always been about.”
The Great Bludgeoning strikes forcibly from opening track ‘The Killer’, the first chords and incisive riffs setting out the album’s landscape; Hatesphere are back with a vengeance, the sound driven, intense and dripping menacing attitude lyrically and musically. The band do not go for niceties, they target the jugular from the off and even with some inspired subsequent creative melodic guitar play from Hansen and rhythm guitarist Jakob Nyholm, nothing is ever anything other than incisive and clear in aggressive intent.
‘Venom’ takes over wandering in on a slow melodic guitar but soon transforms into a track fitting of the title. Mike Park lays down a beat that resonates inside, his drums pounding on the songs chest wonderfully as the guitars conjure up powerful and emotive sounds. Hard rock sounds integrated into the might of the bands thrash power work perfectly and bring a well rounded feel to this track, others, and to the album as a whole.
Each song bursts its guts to bring forth all the power and energy within its skin, the brutality of ‘Decayer’ plus the thrash/rock straight to the point attack, spiced with engaging melodic guitar play of the final two tracks ‘Need To Kill’ and ‘Devil In Your Own Hell’, all combine to show a release well crafted and brought to satisfying realisation. It gives a highly solid base to the album allowing the best tracks to elevate things onto even higher levels.
The album is strong but the quality within the mighty incessant riff and drum belligerence of ‘Smell Of Death’ and the best track on the album, the predatory slowly stalking ‘Resurrect With A Vengeance’, and the heavyweight ferocity of the title track, make the release immense. After a few listens of The Great Bludgeoning the realisation that again Hatesphere have produced an album that will be a benchmark was clear. Thrash metal is in safe hands as long as the band keep this kind of quality coming.