HATEBREED's popularity has led some to question the unit's street cred, which never made much sense to me. Give credit where credit is due; the band always delivers the goods. Some albums are better than others, but none are subpar. "Supremacy" was no exception, even though I thought that continuing in that exact same vein might have worn off some of the luster. Jamey Jasta and crew must have been thinking the same thing because the new self-titled effort sees a fresh injection of ideas without any sacrifice of metallic hardcore brutality.Let there be no question as to the pure ferocity and defiant lyrics of self-preservation and survival against all odds that define any HATEBREED album; those qualities are present in spades. From album opener "Become the Fuse" to the chug 'n stutter of "Not My Master" to the speeding SLAYER-like hardcore of "Hands of a Dying Man" to the vitriolic "As Damaged as Me", this one is a first-rate brawler. But it is the little things that make such a big difference here; the riff turns, the lead guitar parts, and the cadence switch ups are very well developed. Time spent with CROWBAR's Kirk Windstein has rubbed off as well. "Between Hell and a Heartbeat" opens slow and doomy with a creepy lead before the romp begins; the brief lead guitar bursts on the chorus add depth too. The "whoooaaa" backing vocals on "No Halos for the Heartless" are a pleasant surprise and the street-punk melody with sung vocals (hard as nails, but sung nonetheless) are an even bigger surprise on the very catchy "Every Lasting Scar". While we're discussing surprises, mournful and melodic instrumental "Undiminished" is a big one as well. "In Ashes They Shall Reap" is an immediate classic, the chorus pattern of "Born to bleed / fighting to succeed / built to endure / what this world throws at me" reminiscent of "I Will Be Heard", yet it too comes with a CROWBAR chord twist on the verse. Rounding out with a sharp interpretation of METALLICA's "Escape", Best Buy bonus live tracks "To the Threshold" and "As Diehard as they Come" and exclusive DVD of European festival performances (and other goodies), the self-titled album may very well be the best from HATEBREED since "Perseverance". It is a perfect example of how a group can retain a core style that fans have come to expect without running it into the ground.
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