This is how I learned to stop worrying and love the band, HATEBREED.
(And a “Perseverance” album review.)
The scene was Boston’s Annual Freedom Rally circa 1998 and throngs of giggling burn-outs swarmed the grassy knolls of Boston Commons under a warm late September sun. Smoke billowed into the air from lungs old and young, narcotic officers dressed like your usual pothead did their best to fool the dimwitted, and an array of bands played Metal, Reggae, and experimental Stoner Rock upon the park’s towering bandstand.
It was a good day to be young and an even better day to be euphoric. Boston’s “Hempfest” proved to be as entertaining a people-watching spectacle as one could find, and it was the cliques of various degrees that gave the audience its color.
The hippies played hacky-sack in pajamas that looked to be quilted by their grandmother’s knitting circle; the juggalos waded by in smelly processions, their clothes, mostly over-sized t-shirts and overalls, barely hanging on to their shoulders; and young paranoid girls clung to their glassy-eyed boyfriends, who, just as anxious, walked in stoic, robotic gaits.
Baby-boomers passed homemade paper-towel bongs to one another; horseback police offers roamed the outskirts of the Commons much to the delight of the animal-loving vegetarian stoners, and spaced-out venders sold shirts, pipes, seeds, and all manner of greasy finger food.
Simultaneously suspicious as I was care-free, my high was turning into an even mellow, and after filling out a brain-swelling voter registration card, I needed to take a load off. Buried under a hazy sheet of shoulder-level smoke, hundreds of other leg-weary strollers settled on a flat clearing in front of the stage. It seemed an inconspicuous gathering spot, so we bee-lined it over.
While groups like SAM BLACK CHURCH and THE BENTMEN blew away my senses, I scanned the red-eyed crowds, enjoying the amalgam of band shirts. One in particular, adorned by an emaciated blond kid with dreadlocks, kept on popping up.
His shirt read HATEBREED, and something about it, I’m not sure what, hit a nerve. Ultimately, I cast the name off as some skater clothing brand.
Well, weeks past and on a whim a friend and I took a quick trip to Sam Goody (a media store I’m not even sure is still in existence). With my first CD player recently purchased, only bands with the coolest covers and names would be adequate for my very meager collection.
I forget what I bought that day, but my friend, a Portuguese neighbor of mine, arrived at the pay counter with a CD entitled HATEBREED’s “Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire.”
My brows lifted into McDonald arches.
I remember these guys, or at least, I remembered their shirt. Of course, this was well before the days of MySpace, so my initial listen, some hour or so later, was my introduction to a band many Metal fans loathe and others hold atop fiery, skull-lined pedestals.
Suffice to say, I was none too impressed.
It seemed too fast and too distorted. Like cavemen banging on pots and pans while strumming electrified banjoes.
That was then, and now, despite my gradually decreasing fondness for HATEBREED’s, or rather, Jamey Jasta’s desire to sing, my first, close-minded listening of HATEBREED has altered drastically.
How could I have missed the tortured roars of Jasta, and the never-ceasing, always-driving rhythm section? Heavy, irate, and aggressive – HATEBREED was exactly the band I was looking for.
Succeeding 1997’s “Satisfaction” and 2000’s “Under The Knife” EP, the boys from Connecticut unleashed what would inevitably become their most punishing, catchy, and utterly well-rounded album in 2002. It was called “Perseverance,” and it was unlike anything I had ever heard.
From beginning to end, “Perseverance” is a barroom brawl of epic proportions. Jasta’s lyrics are straight-to-the-point, void of metaphor, and deliver with the intent of a snapping pitbull. His roars and bellows echo like a mad drill-sergeant, demanding your attention, threatening your safety, acting always as the integral and most bombastic of HATEBREED’s instrumentation.
However, the remaining band members - Sean Martin (guitar), Lou "Boulder" Richards (guitar), Chris Beattie (bass), and Matt Byrne (drums) – are the sole reason Jasta is allowed to go so terribly berserk.
The build-ups, the breakdowns, the chorus’ – the music of “Perseverance” is built from blood, and most definitely, built for war.
No album could be a better testament to the riff-mastery that Boulder left behind, who, unable to conquer his demons, died at his own hands in 2002.
Only a handful of albums have ever instilled in me such a spring of power and anger. It’s a “classic” Hardcore album in every sense of the word, and perhaps, for this reviewer, as enduring a piece of anguished and thunderous metal as I’ve come across.
“A Call For Blood,” “Below The Bottom,” “Proven,” “Unloved,” and “Smash Your Enemies” are furious examples of HATEBREED’s finest.
Me(n)tal Note: SLAYER's Kerry King offered a guest guitar lead on “Final Prayer.”
(Online August 29, 2010)