Hatebreed

An institution can be relied on. Its foundations don’t shake due to the winds of change or tides of trends—no matter how volatile, omnipresent, or tenuous.

With steadfast determination, drive, and dedication, Hatebreed cement themselves as one of heavy music’s strongest institutions on their seventh full-length offering and very first for Nuclear Blast worldwide, 2016’s The Concrete Confessional. Since 1994, the Connecticut quintet—Jamey Jasta [vocals], Chris Beattie [bass], Wayne Lozinak [guitar], Frank Novinec [guitar], and Matthew Byrne [drums]—has risen to the ranks of hardcore and heavy metal elite with a GRAMMY® Award nomination, main stage slots on festivals, and countless fans worldwide. 2013’s The Divinity Of Purpose earned their highest entry on the Billboard Top 200, bowing at #17 with impressive first-week sales in excess of 17,000. When it came time to return to the studio after two years on the road, Jasta and his cohorts clung to the bedrock on which their legacy stands firm.

“There’s nothing better than loud amps in the face, cranked up riffs that hit you right in the chest and lyrics that spark a new thought and give you a charge,” he declares. “That’s our musical DNA. We could just be who we are. We don’t need to incorporate whatever the trend is. We can just be Hatebreed. There are some new highlights to the game, but you know it’s us.”

The Divinity Of Purpose brought them to new areas of the globe as the headlined festivals in the UK, Finland, Norway, Germany, and Eastern Europe and landed a slot on Ozzfest Japan. They would perform at Poland’s Woodstock in front of 400,000 people. Stateside, the band supported longtime friends Black Label Society in the winter of 2015 and then got the opportunity to be direct support to Slipknot on a Spring 2015 run in between festival appearances at Rock On The Range, Welcome To Rockville, and more as well as Motörhead's Motörboat with Slayer and Motörhead.

“Riding into this album, I realized we could play with bands of every genre nearly anywhere without deviating from who we are,” continues Jasta. “The Motörboat was another real career highlight. We played this exclusive event with some of our chief influences. We got to literally chart new territory.”

Returning home in the Fall of 2015, they entered the studio with longtime producer Zeuss [Rob Zombie, Soulfly]. Immediately, they channeled the spirit that’s long defined their signature sound. By January, the record was mixed by Josh Wilbur [Megadeth, Lamb Of God] and primed for ignition.

“We had a really good vibe in the studio,” he says. “The record is a snapshot of this time for us.”

It also reflects what’s going on outside. The opening track and first single “A.D.” fuses together torrential thrashed-out guitars, double bass drums, and Jasta’s immortal growl before an incendiary lead. The singer dissects what the American Dream means in a climate of upheaval. “Fight fire with fire, you’ll see everyone’s burning,” he screams. Think of it as “Vote With A Bullet” or “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” for the Instagram age.

“It’s a mirror of both sides of the story whether it’s what you believe in the media or what you actually see,” he explains. “Musically, it came together quickly. It’s about all of the frustrated feelings that come out when I turn on the news. So much of our attention is focused on the wrong areas. People want to one-up each other with better clothes and cars, and it’s all bullshit. Nobody goes to the grave with any of that stuff. It’s not all instant gratification. What exists on the phone and computer isn’t what exists in real life. What is the American Dream anymore?”

The machine gun chug of “Looking Down The Barrel Of Today” proves equally uplifting and undeniable. “I wanted something to get crowds pumped up,” he admits. “So many fans will tell us, ‘Your records help me get through my life.’ I needed to encourage this cyclical power to get up and face the day. You either make the best of today, or you’re done in by it.”

“Something’s Off” carries an ominously lyrical bass line into a guttural chant, showcasing Jasta’s chilling vocal dynamics in the process. “I’ve written songs about depression, alcoholism, and falling back into destructive patterns,” he says. “However, I never felt like I could really put my finger on what anxiety is. It’s not just social anxiety but this unexplained feeling of unease, like I’m in a fog. I’ve felt it occasionally since I was in grade school. You can’t control when it happens. Heavy music has kept that beast at bay—in addition to exercise and experiences with my family. I had to confront it directly in the lyrics here.”

Elsewhere, “Remember When” and “Slaughtered In Their Dreams” juxtapose visceral lyricism with a searing sonic backdrop as chaotic as it is catchy. Through and through, The Concrete Confessional is classic Hatebreed.

In order to transfer this message to the masses, the band inked a global deal with Nuclear Blast. “They’re world-renowned mainstays in the metal community,” he smiles. “We get to be in the company of career bands we look up to.”

Hatebreed have come a long way from the East Coast’s storied nineties underground scene. Their journey has seen them achieve a 2005 GRAMMY® Award nod in the category of “Best Metal Performance” for “Live For This,” sell over 1.2 million records, and land a #1 debut on Billboard’s DVD Chart with 2009’s Live Dominance. Moreover, they’ve annihilated audiences from Mayhem Fest to OZZfest Japan and Download Festival to Wacken, Hellfest, and beyond.

Now, The Concrete Confessional fits right into the bold, bloody, and beating heart of the Hatebreed institution.

“The title had to be something that was heavy and hard, but also vulnerable and honest,” Jasta leaves off. “Heavy music is this cleansing, therapeutic, and cathartic experience for so many. You’re there, the guitars are crushing you, and someone’s screaming their head off—sharing their pain and aspects of their life through words, poetry, or songs. There’s nothing like it. You confess you have negative thoughts, and you purge them. For however long you’re at the show, there are no bills to pay, issues to deal with, or problems holding you back. You can be free.”

Shadows Fall

Before the so-called "New Wave of American Heavy Metal" was even a ripple, Shadows Fall were there. Emerging from Springfield, MA in 1995, this D.I.Y. band ultimately found legions of fans, worldwide fame, two Grammy nominations, and even a song on Guitar Hero. Of course, none of this came from luck. Instead, hard work and musical innovation have been the forces propelling Shadows Fall, continually revealing ever more of this band's greatness. They are beyond simply best-in-class; in so many ways, Shadows Fall – with their unmistakable, seamless blend of metal and hard rock - have grown to help define the very essence of modern aggressive music. With Retribution – the band's fifth full length and follow-up to 2007's critically acclaimed Threads of Life – it's no surprise to find Shadows Fall once again taking bold steps in their quest for constant evolution. It starts, of course, with the guts of Retribution – the sound. "With each album we've gotten a little more confidence to really let all of our influences show," says vocalist Brian Fair. "We're unapologetic about the old-school metal and the 80s influence, as well as the thrash and the melodic death metal." And Retribution – with music production by Zeuss and vocal production by Elvis Baskette - surely has that thrash-metal bedrock which has long served as the foundation of Shadows Fall – but there's more. "We've really taken some songs all the way," explains Fair. "The brutal parts are a complete, non-stop assault, and the rock-influenced songs go all the way within that rock direction. A song like 'Picture Perfect' - the chorus is more Journey or Def Leppard than it is death metal," laughs Fair. "There's really no holding back when it comes to our songwriting. Once the floodgates open, we go all the way." The result is Retribution - a collection of songs that showcase the versatility and vision of this band that only seems to get better over time. But the evolution of Shadows Fall is not limited to their music. Atop the shifting grounds of an unpredictable music industry, they've found even more opportunity to try new ideas. "We learned everything from the ground up," says Fair, reflecting on more than a decade of experience and lessons learned. "We've gone through the independent metal world to the major label world, and have come to realize that, given the way things are now, it's all about the band re-taking the control of everything: music, business, ownership, publishing. Everything."

The Acacia Strain

It can be said that some bands truly embody a certain spirit or emotion. Without a doubt, Massachusetts' long running juggernauts, THE ACACIA STRAIN, truly embody anger. And that shows more than ever on their newest full length, "Wormwood." The band's actual sound and vibe are more ferocious than ever on this, their fourth full length for Prosthetic Records and fifth effort overall. Even the successes of their previous full-length, "Continent," which debuted at #2 on Billboard's "Heatseekers" chart in 2008 and their DVD, "The Most Known Unknown," which debuted at #10 on Billboard's Top Video Sales Chart in the February of its release, have not assuaged front man and lyricist Vincent Bennett's turmoil. For "Wormwood," the band returned to the scene of the creation of "Continent;" producer Zeus' of Planet Z Studio in Hadley, MA, who has previously worked with the likes of Hatebreed, The Red Chord, All That Remains and more, engineered, mixed and mastered the slab of vitriol. This time around, we find guitarist, D.L. experimenting with 8 string guitars, adding further depth and low end to the band's already stomach-turning low end sound. "Wormwood" peaked at #67 on the U.S. Billboard charts, signaling metal fans' increasing affinity for the band's sheer musical passion and vicious brand of heaviness. The band appeared on last year's "Cool Tour" with As I Lay Dying, Underoath, Between the Buried And Me, Blessthefall, Architects, Cancer Bats and War of Ages. The band's extensive tour history has them on the road with acts such as Whitechapel, Unearth, Bleeding Through, Killswitch Engage, Despised Icon and August Burns Red. They have also appeared on The Sounds of the Underground Tour and will be a must-see addition to this summer's Vans Warped Tour. THE ACACIA STRAIN were formed in 2002 in Western Massachusetts, and have gone through a variety of line ups, even, at one point having three guitars, but have played in their current incarnation since 2006. That line up consists of vocalist Vincent Bennett, bassist Jack Strong, guitarist Daniel "DL" Laskeiwitz and drummer Kevin Boutot.

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