Release date: September 23, 2011
Since their collaboration with SPV Records in 2005, Danish hard-metallers HateSphere have raged a brutal assault throughout Europe, culminating in several European tours alongside the likes of Chimaira, Morbid Angel and Kreator and a performance at Wacken Open Air. Their 2009 release To The Nines was a powerful addition to a growing back-catalogue of torturous metal, and even when faced with the replacement of frontman Jonathan “Joller” Albrechtsen, The Great Bludgeoning delivers exactly what it says it does. HateSphere’s momentum shifts up a gear with a solid record that will draw in a new wave of head-bangers as well as keep the loyal followers turned up to 11.
No time is wasted with HateSphere‘s newest album. From the second you hit play, you’re committed to an all-out assault from “The Killer”. Even holding the record in your hand is like clutching a cluster grenade, it’s eager to burst out of its packaging and have its dirty little way. Esben “Esse” Hansen takes the vocal reins with fierce intensity which reminds me of Chimaira‘s own Mark Hunter. The transition is almost seamless as Hansen’s burning screams and gutteral growling compliments the fiery riffing and fits comfortably alongside drummer Mike Park, guitarist Jakob Nyholm, new bassist Jimmy Nedergaard and HateSphere‘s founder and lead guitarist Peter “Pepe” Lyse Hansen.
A good percentage of this metal spectacle is fast and relentless, but many metalheads will be unfamiliar with a lack of thumping double-bass that is usually recognizable within metal of this magnitude. I, for one, can barely survive without a barrage of double-bass to rattle my skull (see Job For A Cowboy‘s “Constitutional Masturbation”) but after my first hearing of The Great Bludgeoning I wasn’t missing it, and let me tell you, a great bludgeoning is exactly what you experience. The pacey “Smell of Death” is an unavoidable attack on your most vulnerable senses, whilst the sinister “Decayer” leaves you to suffer with the aftermath as it hovers over your beaten torso. The dark introduction of “Decayer” is followed-up with a deep, rumbling bass and guitar combo which sets a mysterious tone for the rest of the track.
The title track gives the listener plenty to headbang about, as does most of HateSphere‘s newest offering, but we have not been spared an equal measure of melodious brutality throughout the record.
I find The Great Bludgeoning to be an essential purchase for any hard-metal listeners who like their aggression to be slightly warped, but still brutal as hell. The only disappointment I found with HateSphere‘s seventh studio album was that there should’ve been more of it. The record is around 35 minutes long, spanning nine tracks, which I feel could’ve been stretched. A couple of tracks such as “The Killer” come to a rather abrupt ending during an energetic hail of barbaric riffage. A frustrating issue which leaves me begging the question “Where’s the rest of my metal?”
Perhaps I’m just being greedy, but despite my “give me more” attitude, I was left extremely satisfied with my fix of metal goodness, and I can guarantee that you will be too.