HateSphere – The Great Bludgeoning (2011)

Posted: September 27, 2011 in Music

Since their self-titled rookie release in 2001, Denmark’s HateSphere has put the rest of the European thrash metal scene on notice. Now granted, nobody does thrash metal better than the godfathers of the genre here in the good ol’ US of A, but a lot can be said about these nordic headbangers.

Or, maybe, more specifically we should be talking about founder and guitarist Peter “Pepe” Hansen, who is the sole remaining member of the band. Hansen (now keep track here, as there have been no less than four Hansens in the band over the years) quickly generated an unmistakeable sound early in the band’s career that has, throughout numerous lineup changes over the decade, remained relatively unchanged. So much so, that in a musical world of ‘evolve or die,’ HateSphere has defied the odds by being as popular and powerful as ever.

Now, you’ll get critics that say the band has done nothing more than re-recorded their first album over and over and over again. These same pundits scream and moan that the band hasn’t changed their style one bit since the early days, and are unworthy of the high praise received. To those, I simply have four words: Shut the fuck up.

I’m a firm believer that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ After all, why risk changing up a perfect sound? Yes, other bands have tried it (as if it were some cardinal rule or something), but to various levels of success. ‘Changing things up’ damn near killed Metallica with their St. Anger album, and only now – eight years later – are they finally done washing that stink off…

So – call it HateSphere doing what HateSphere does best, or the old ‘tried-and-true.’ Regardless of how you define it, the band is back with their follow up to 2009s To The Nines with The Great Bludgeoning. Returning to the booth is producer-extraordinaire Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Dark Tranquility), and he works his magic once again – creating a clean sounding album without making it too shiny. It is, after all, a metal album…

For me, The Great Bludgeoning is a HateSphere album through and through, but apparently there was something about the last album (lineup changes? critical assessment?) that prompted the band to make the following statement about the new record:

“We have aimed the new album in a more old-school direction than its predecessor. With people this experienced joining the band, it has been a very relaxed and enjoyable process to write the songs, and we have all agreed on the concept. More metal and everything that follows. The cover, the title and the lyrics speaks for themselves. We are an angry-sounding metal band, and we have no intention of denying that. That’s why the cover is more back-to-the-roots and the lyrics are again about aggressions, drinking and hate. The things that HateSphere has always been about.”

And thats a great summation of what is presented here. It’s fast, it’s aggressive, and at times is brutal as hell.

In lieu of any fancy intro, the album brings the sledgehammer right from the get go with a 4/4 drum beat and masterful guitars and destroys any conception that the band would be doing anything other than kicking our asses for the next thirty-seven minutes.

Apparently cloning is far more advanced in Denmark than in the States, as you’d swear new vocalist Esben “Esse” Hansen (told ya) shared the same genes as former front man Jonathan Albrechtsen. The same can be said for bassist Jimmy Nedergaard – who matches the style of the departed Mixen Lindberg to perfection. With all these interchangeable parts, it’s no wonder the band has continued to maintain their success.

There isn’t much of a need to get to involved talking about Hansen (the guitarist.) He’s been known for years as one of the genre’s better performers, and he hasn’t lost his touch. Almost every song focuses around his shred-fest – but that’s the thrash metal formula. Always has been, always will.

For that reason, there really isn’t any reason to talk about each and every track here. If you like thrash metal, you’ll like the album – plain and simple. For those of you that require the obligatory selling points, I’ve scratched out a couple here that should convince you.

“Smell Of Death” – the albums third track (featured below) – is as ‘in-your-face’ and heavy as ever. The band is spot on throughout with the perfect mix of speed and groove metal elements, all performed at a million miles an hour. Trying to keep up with Mike Park’s drum assault had my wrists and ankles aching and almost broke my patio table – and that was just the first forty-five seconds. Talk about intense…

The softer side of the band shows with “The Wail of My Threnode,” a slowed-down instrumental that serves a prelude of sorts to “Ressurect With A Vengeance.” When they said they were going to turn back the clock, they had to have been talking about this. As if they had the devil deliver it straight from the Bloodred Hatred sessions from 2002, this song screams ‘old-school’ and gets your blood-pumping with evil goodness. The tempo shift two-thirds of the way through throws the whole thing into chaos, and HateSphere capitalizes on the energy the effect has. An epic track, without a doubt.

The last of our ‘must-listens’ involves “Need To Kill.” Make note of the interesting guitars that are tuned to more of a rock-friendly key – they carry more weight than usual. It’s still thrash, but has a more groove-laden accessibility to it. It’s more of a change (and a good one, at that) than I’ve heard in the band for years, but it’s still minimal on the grand scheme of things.

After all, you are getting what you paid for here: a thrash metal album done to perfection by a guitarist that has earned the right to be called one of the genre’s best. It doesn’t stretch the boundaries of modern thrash or redefine the band’s personal style – it just continues the growing list of albums the band has been able to release that are done the right way. If you haven’t had the chance to familiarize yourself with HateSphere, this is the perfect time and the perfect album. You won’t be disappointed…


01 – The Killer
02 – Venom
03 – Smell of Death
04 – Decayer
05 – The Wail of My Threnode
06 – Ressurect With A Vengeance
07 – The Great Bludgeoning
08 – Need To Kill
09 – Devil In Your Own Hell

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