Released: 2005, SPV/Steamhammer
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Denmark’s Hatesphere have been bubbling below the surface of the European thrash scene for five years now, releasing blistering albums that, for whatever reason, have kept them out of the “big circle” with The Haunted, Darkane, Carnal Forge, etc. on North American shores. Hatesphere draws heavily from the thrash masters of the Bay Area, as well as Germany’s legendary triumvirate of Kreator, Sodom and Destruction but Jacob Bredahl’s hardcore-tinged vocals—he is also in Barcode—add a different element to the music. Hatesphere never devolves into the metalcore abyss (breakdowns, etc.) but remains firmly entrenched in riff-based, groove-oriented metal to bang your head to. THE SICKNESS WITHIN is the latest entry into the Hatesphere canon and while a bit slower-paced than the front-to-back assault of 2004’s BALLET OF THE BRUTE, it sees the band still improving as both songwriters and musicians. The twin guitar attack of Peter Lyse Hansen and Henrik Jacobsen unleash a punishing blitzkrieg of razor-edged riffs that go toe-to-toe with Bredahl’s venomous vocal delivery and the taut rhythm section of Mikael Ehlert and Anders Gyldenohr. At 45 minutes, THE SICKNESS WITHIN is the perfect length, and in all honesty, my neck couldn’t take anymore, either!
“The White Fever” opens with a dark, ominous riff that is a springboard for the moshing groove that finally kicks in. Bredahl’s growls and screams are not unlike those of The Haunted’s Peter Dolving, teetering the line that separates hardcore and metal. The chord progression found on “Reaper of Life” is reminiscent of SOUTH OF HEAVEN/SEASONS IN THE ABYSS-era Slayer and the neck-breaking thrash found on the title track could have been lifted from your favorite Bay Area release circa 1987. “Murderous Intent,” found on last year’s THE KILLING E.P., shifts gears from a balls-out thrash piece to a slower middle section complete with bass bombs and a furious attack on the senses by Ehlert and Gyldenøhr. “Heaven Is Ready To Fall” and “Seeds of Shame” boast some pained clean vocals alongside the growls but still retain the paint-peeling intensity of the rest of the album. With a vicious cackle, Bredahl declares on “Chamber Master” that “I can smell your rotten soul,” which pretty much sums up the raison d’etre of Hatesphere—brutal aggression. A trade-off solo with Nevermore’s Steve Smyth accompanies one of the heaviest and riff-tastic tracks on the CD, “Marked By Darkness.”
One complaint with THE SICKNESS WITHIN is that the songs tend to follow a similar pattern. There aren’t any choruses that stick in your head and for the most part, Hatesphere never lets up, delivering hit after hit of untamed metal attitude. This may not be a fault and the band cannot be labeled as soft but there definitely seems to be a bit of sameness flowing into their music. The advances made over BALLET OF THE BRUTE show the band is more than a one-trick pony but there is still room for improvement.
When Hatesphere is firing on all cylinders, they cannot be touched and THE SICKNESS WITHIN sees the band at the top of their game. The production team of Tommy and Jacob Hansen (with Tue Madsen handling the mix) have captured the sound of scything guitars and an incredibly powerful rhythm section to create a CD that pummels the listener from start to finish. For your riff-a-minute dollar, THE SICKNESS WITHIN is worth every penny.
KILLER KUTS: “The White Fever,” “Reaper of Life,” “Sickness Within,” “Murderous Intent,” “Heaven Is Ready To Fall,” “Chamber Master”