Originally written by Jordan Campbell
Give ’em points for persistence. Hatesphere have been cranking out pissed-off Gothenthrash practically non-fucking-stop since 2001, peppering the metal masses with ‘roid rage speedballs (and awful cover art) to the point of numbness. This sixth record marks a crossroads of sorts–longtime fans know the drill by now, and those that have stayed at bay thus far are likely going to stay put. In all fairness, To The Nines is actually a bad-ass little record, and the masses would be remiss to sleep on it for a mulitude of reasons, e.g. the record’s impeccable pacing, the furious delivery of new vocalist Johnathan Albrechtsen, and the fact that The Haunted suck ass now, rendering Hatesphere the sexiest act of this ilk.
This brand of pounding, modern Eurothrash is usually tough to swallow in a single sitting. The screwed-tight, brickwall density of this stuff hits fucking hard, and the super-clean tones (Desaster, this ain’t) usually causes swelling of the brain stem within a handful of songs. Realizing this, the band has taken to creating a true album, rather than compiling a laundry list of beatdowns. Openers “To The Nines” and “Backstabber” focus on speed, but progress purposefully into a classic mosh riff and climactic shredding, respectively. Together, they set the table for the crowd-kicking stomper “Cloaked In Shit” and the chunky, infectious “Clarity.” Then, instead of slathering on the bludgeon, they end Side A and begin Side B with a pair of one-minute splices–the first a full-on thrash demon, the second a vein-pumping interlude. A masterstroke of storytelling, that–and an unexpected turn of subtlety from a genre that rarely flexes it.
And this new kid behind the mic tells the story expertly. His throatripping howl never descends into that iffy sandpaper-and-tequila range that too many amateurs fall prey to, and he lowers things into death metal territory with expert timing. In addition to supplying swagger to the aforementioned “Clarity,” his bellows almost steal the show on the album’s meatier, meaner latter half. Ironically, his “live!…from the studio” hypecharges and calls-to-arms do bring Desaster to mind, after all–albeit in a more focused, less homicidally Satanic fashion. The circle-pit epic “Oceans of Blood” wouldn’t hit nearly as hard without him leading the charge, nor would it be the album’s true triumph.
Fine-tuned and razor sharp, this is another solid effort from this Danish crew. Would it be better served by more serpentine soloing and less palm muted mosh-mongering? Absolutely. But those cursed to call this style of thrash/death metal as one of their vices shouldn’t let ambivalence get the best of them on this go-round.