HATESPHERE survived the mass exodus of members only to come out and release one of their best albums in their career with “To The Nines”. An album that embraced their now fully groove influxed Thrash/Death attack…well, to the nines. Thusly, their seventh album, “The Great Bludgeoning”, was going to have a tough act to follow. It does so ably, adding in some decent variety to the mix, even if it isn’t quite the efficient monster that came before it.
For the majority of its playtime, “The Great Bludgeoning” handles the core of HATESPHERE with punchy Deathy and Thrashy tracks. “The Killer”, “Decayer”, and the like erupt with intensity partnering some energetic Thrash riffs with the band’s Death inspired drum attack. This is iced over with another strong vocal performance of guttural roars. The occasional bouncing groove moments make their appearances on the mid-tempo beat “Resurrect With A Vengeance” to embrace the band’s slightly modified sound. HATESPHERE even dabbles towards a Prog inspired touch on the epic “The Venom” and the interlude “The Wail Of My Threnode”. This ability to weave in a few new intricacies to their already aggressive and established sound gives this album a slight advantage.
“The Great Bludgeoning” isn’t quite the efficient slab of Metal that this band has been known to give the listener though. The greater variety inspired a sense of growth in the band, but the album also suffers from the less aggressive tone at times. The writing simply doesn’t seem as tight as we’ve heard from the band even on the album prior. It flounders with its chemistry at times and simply isn’t the ‘go for the throat’ mentality that HATESPHERE does so well.
All of this is paired with a rather hit or miss production, where the snare drum pops far too much and the guitars blur together. “The Great Bludgeoning” is left being a solid effort, but far from being HATESPHERE at its best. Fans of the band will find material to love and perhaps respect the album for its widened artistic approach, but it can leave a bit of a flat feeling in the end.
Songs to check out: “The Killer”, “Smell Of Death”, “The Great Bludgeoning”.
(Online January 22, 2012)