Politics, philosophy, self-loathing, current events, the state of the world. Most fans of hardcore have come to expect these types of topics to be expressed on any given album. One should come away from listening to such an album feeling exhilarated, pumped up and maybe even borderline ready to destroy the closest unfortunate inanimate object. One hardcore outfit that never disappoints in this respect is Hatebreed. With aggressive vocals, hard-driving riffs, anthem-like choruses, Hatebreed is the total hardcore package in every aspect.
Currently consisting of Jamey Jasta on vocals, Frank Novinec on guitar, Chris Beattie on bass, Wayne Lozinak also on guitar, and Matt Byrne on drums, Hatebreed continues their hardcore onslaught with the release of their 8th studio album, ‘Weight of the False Self’. Working with Zuess as producer has again combined the strategic wisdom of both he and the band into an opus of hardcore musings rife with all the best aspects of this subgenre of metal. Hatebreed has expended a bit of time and effort honing their signature sound which can prove to be detrimental in some respects.
With that said, ‘Weight of the False Self’ shines brightly with the aforementioned signature sound. Every song has intense vocals and impressive musicianship with a few surprises mixed in. Making it more intense is the fact that many tracks have no intro of any sort. Just straight into the requisite Jasta screaming to which we’ve become so accustomed. They often end as abruptly as they begin. As a reviewer, I can’t really speak about the deep meaning of the lyrics without lifting the band’s own words from their website. You can read their write-up here. All songs pack a huge punch in short bursts. The longest track on the album is a mere 3 minutes, 18 seconds. Short and to the point.
The first single from the new record, “Instinctive (Slaughterlust)”, explodes upon the listener like a water cannon to the face and sets the tone for everything that follows. As with most, if not all, the tracks on this offering, it has the tempo changes and audio breaks that are characteristic to hardcore. The track closes with another Jasta favorite, the infamous metal vomit sound that he seems to have perfected over the years. It never fails to give me a chuckle.
“Let Them All Rot” has a few-second intro, standing it apart from most of this record. The background riff immediately reminds me of a riff from a completely different song, different band, different subgenre of metal. Aside from that, the rest of the song is masterful from drum line to lyrics. It embodies the nature and psyche of Jasta and Hatebreed at both its finest and its darkest. “Set It Right (Start With Yourself)” and “Weight of the False Self” appear to be HB’s public service announcements which are just too relevant for the year 2020. Both PSAs are quite effective set to Hatebreed’s backdrop of
“Cling to Life” is another of only a handful of songs that has a short intro that leads into another slugfest but also includes an almost choir-like chorus that seems a little out of place. It almost made me uncomfortable to hear it within the context of a Hatebreed song. I appreciate the use of the choir and the song in which it is used, it just takes some getting used to.
“From Gold to Gray” also has a background riff that reminds me of a different song, different band. Unfortunately, I cannot place that song and it’s annoying. “Invoking Dominance” has an almost ethereal intro that is unique for this album. That unique intro doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the song.
The remainder of the album, while all great songs in their own right, tend to be slightly repetitive in sound and song structure. While this may be a defining album in the discography of Hatebreed, the brand they’ve established has left little room for variety in the music. A standard hardcore drum line is the classic fallback that basically unites bands in this subgenre but it is also the one characteristic that can make some tracks sound too similar to stand out on their own. ‘Weight of the False Self’ seems too much like a continuation of ‘Concrete Confessional’ with the better writing and musical variety being on the latter of the two.
‘Weight of the False Self’ is a masterpiece of hardcore following in the vein of Hatebreed’s legacy of almost 30 years. Jamey Jasta and friends continue to blast their fans with dark imagery, lofty ideas and even try to make you a better person. Try not to compare it to their earlier work.