Released: 2009, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Initially, my review of Hatebreed’s new covers album, FOR THE LIONS, was going to consist of three simple words – “what’s the point?” But after spending some more time with the album, I came to the conclusion that a more fleshed out response was better suited. I actually do enjoy Hatebreed’s brand of metal infused hardcore (or vice versa, depending on where in the band’s history you got on board). They’re the best at what they do and the band totally kills live. But while certainly heavy, they’ve become a one-trick pony of sorts – heavy, pummeling riffs coupled with Jamey Jasta’s constant I FEEL COMPELLED TO SHOUT ALL THE TIME vocals. I get it; you’re angry, you’re filled with strife, you’re the voice of the unheard - trust me, I get it. So what’s the motivation to cover such a dynamic cross section of metal, punk, and hardcore classics with such a one-dimensional formula? What’s the point?
The true test of a good cover song is how it holds up against the original; is there anything gained by listening to the newer version as opposed to the original, or is it just self-indulgent fun on behalf of the band? Take a wild guess at which bucket this album falls into…Look at the track list and think of the vocalists that contributed to the original versions – Glenn Danzig, Henry Rollins, Mike Muir, Tom Araya, John Tardy, etc., rip away all of the unique deliveries that made the songs so great, and then supplant Jamey Jasta’s I FEEL COMPELLED TO SHOUT ALL THE TIME vocals in exchange. Then detune all of the guitars to a thick, crunchy mush to compensate for Jasta’s limited range and strip away any of the musical complexity that may have been present in the originals. How’s that working out for you so far?
Even on some of the more traditional hardcore tunes like Sick of it All’s “Shut Me Out” and Cro-Mags’ “It’s the Limit” feel empty. And Hatebreed covering Madball? C’mon, that’s like Coke covering Pepsi…All right, so it’s not all questionable. Jasta’s quality time with Kirk Windstein in Kingdom of Sorrow must have paid off, as Crowbar’s “All I Had (I Gave)” is a pretty dead on take of the original. Most surprising, however, is Metallica’s “Escape” from RIDE THE LIGHTNING. Jasta offers up an enjoyable James Hetfield impersonation and the song itself is a decent homage, weaving just enough melody into the Hatebreed sound to make it a fun listen.
I give Hatebreed credit for paying tribute to their heroes, but the material on FOR THE LIONS would have been better suited as a bonus disc or priced as an E.P., rather than giving this the new album treatment with the full sticker price in tow. FOR THE LIONS is the sound of Hatebreed having fun, playing songs that have provided inspiration in simple, cut and dry Hatebreed fashion. If you’re okay with that, then FOR THE LIONS will deliver exactly what you’d expect. Otherwise you’ll likely only get in a listen or two before the novelty quickly wears off.