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  • Since the release of their 2003 album, “The Rise Of Brutality”, Hatebreed have added a second guitarist, signed with Roadrunner Records, and had their frontman (Jamey Jasta) premier a side project, Icepick. It speaks well for the band’s hard work and commitment ethic that they dealt with so many changes in time to release a new record, the highly anticipated “Supremacy,” three years later.

    Unfortunately, it does not speak well at all for Hatebreed that Icepick’s first album, “Violent Epiphany,” is, in a lot of ways, better than Hatebreed’s fifth. Those songs weren’t great, but at least they had some variety and even a few curveballs thrown into the mix. “Supremacy”’s ferocious riffs, hard hitting drums, and bellowed vocals are furthered by crisp, biting production, thus making it as heavy (maybe heavier) than the band’s previous material. But it doesn’t expand whatsoever on the band’s sound or improve on their songwriting skills or musicial abilities. It’s a great surprise that even Jasta’s lyrics (which typically deal with inner strength) have kind of lost their appeal and don’t seem to be as intelligent or inspirational as they used to be.

    But the real astonishment here is how much of the disc sags. Hatebreed had three years to make this disc, so you’d think they’d sound as energetic as ever before, but they don’t sound the least bit fresh or revitalized. “Supremacy” wears thin towards the end when songs like “As Diehard As They Come” rely too heavily on chugging riffs, and other tracks like “Supremacy Of Self” are almost completely unremarkable. And “To The Threshold” is also a very negligible track (including a b-side–originally from a “Headbanger’s Ball” compilation–screams filler.)

    It isn’t completely disappointing, though, because there’s just enough power and muscle in the good songs to compensate for the not-so-good ones and make the album generally solid. “Defeatist” is an avalanche of scorching guitars, rapid drumming, and catchy shout-alongs. “Mind Over All” (which features great, building vocals followed by a very cool climax), “Give Strength To My Triumph,” and “Spitting Venom” are backed by more white-hot guitar shredding and complimented perfectly by cracking drums. “Divine Judgement” and “Immortal” enemies are short but viscous, relentless attacks of blazing riffs and earthquake rhythms. But the record’s biggest highpoint is definitely “Destroy Everything,” because it features a lumbering beat and adds a memorable, staccato chant of the title phrase in the chorus which is destined to be a mosh pit favorite.

    Still, “Supremacy” does have a few flaws which can’t be overlooked and it ultimately ends up sounding like maybe Jasta has been stretched a little too thin and should have spent more time making the album. “Supremacy” is definitely worth hearing, but don’t make it your next purchase. For a completely satisfying listen, pick up Hatebreed’s last two releases (2002’s skull-crushing “Perseverance” and the aforementioned “The Rise Of Brutality,” which was released the following year and is still Hatebreed’s best effort to date). And if, for some very peculiar reason, your thirst isn’t completely quenched (or if you already own those albums), get your hands on a copy of Terror’s most recent “Always The Hard Way,” Sick Of It All’s “Death To Tyrants,” or even Icepick’s above-mentioned debut. Just wait a while before buying this one.

    Posted on January 23, 2010