Review – Hate Squad: Katharsis

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Review – Hate Squad: Katharsis
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Hate Squad: Katharsis
Death Metal, Metalcore, Thrash Metal
Massacre Records
October 28th, 2011
Release length: 56:33
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In Hanover, Germany back in 1993, the origins of Thrash Metal act Hate Squad began. As the group approaches their twentieth anniversary of being a group, they are still rather unknown outside the dedicated circles of Thrash fandom. This is quite off considering the group has stayed pretty close to the original line-up according to research, having only had to swap guitarists a few times in their whole career. There’s also not that much information readily available about the group’s previous releases on the internet with many of the more modern and well established sites out there. After five albums, the group heads back to the studio after roughly three years to record their sixth effort, Katharsis. Considering their current home of Massacre Records and their large roster of talented Metal acts, is Katharsis the effort that will bring the Hate Squad name out of the underground more, or will this more Metalcore soaked modern sound the band has been using cause it to be another lesser known release?

Katharsis is definitely aimed more towards being a very heavy sounding release. The audio itself is a little cleaner, but the volume here ends up being pretty loud. This helps in making the album’s audio often sound crushing, but also seems to lose a little more to it. The rhythm guitars here sound pretty clean, but the lead guitars here sound dirty and really deep, working perfectly with the bass to create a bludgeoning sound that would almost better suit a Death Metal record then this which shows perfectly at the end of “Katharsis” when the music slows down to a trudging pace that feels like its just hammering away at the listener with blunt fury. The drums sound pretty good here as well with very deep snares against thudding bass kicks that also have a deeper sound but distinct from the aforementioned snares. The cymbals of the kit come through loudly as well, though not quite around the levels of the guitar and sometimes feel a little more drowned out. The vocals, however, are a bit more predominant on the mix and really amp up to be the loudest aspect of the recording with more of a deeper growling and shouting approach you’d expect to hear in a Swedish Death Metal album then a German Thrash act. This really accommodates Katharsis as an overall brutal sounding effort that does depart from the standards of Thrash Metal for an intimidating Death appeal that you can’t help but recognize as a driving force of their more modern sound.

But, that’s not all. Katharsis really does seem to pull in various other concepts to their mix. “The One” doesn’t just rest at being a more Metalcore fused track with some Melodic Death Metal-esque hooks, but with that also comes an unmistakable Groove Metal presence, and even some more catcher Melodic Death Metal style riffs for the chorus. The album’s foundation clearly takes in a good amount of outside sources and sometimes it can be good, but other times it can feel a bit distant. However, the atmosphere of the recording feels rather desolate and brutal, which is established well with the introductory acoustic track “Deep Scars” which really paints more of a deserted feeling through Spanish rooted music that one might find when it comes to the blistering Mexican heat settings in today’s action films that bleeds into the uncompromising “Katharsis” and its Thrash fueled intensity. But as intense as that track is, it’s soul crushing sound doesn’t compare to the high energy and catchiness of “Your Rotten Life” and its mandatory head banging factor that starts to show a bit of the Groove Metal influence to the audio of this release.

Hate Squad‘s more modern material has really taken on a stronger Metalcore influence as well. It doesn’t necessarily show that much at the start of the album, and more caters to the roots of the group’s sound. However, the more Melodic Death Metal style material does eventually feel more like the hooks of Metalcore as the music starts to go through route with the track “The One,” and seems to not really look back. “Hatebomb” just further accentuates this with a more traditional Metalcore approach that immediately puts that aforementioned bludgeoning sound on the back-burner for generic material, hooks, and overall sound that makes this track feel immediately like uninspiring filler with the only positive thing about it surprisingly being the breakdown that seems a little more intense than the rest of the track.

Amid the plethora of rather tame and uninspiring Metalcore fused material that makes its way in here is the song “Old Times… Good Times!” which is a rather catchy and more upbeat track. Unlike “Hatebomb” and the others that follow, this track has plenty of solid moments to it that end up allowing for some good head banging music that at times can make you do it against your will with that Thrashier riffs that do find their way into the song. It’s too bad that this song hits so late, especially given that some of the songs from this point do start to pick up a bit. “R3VOLUT1ON15T” stands out nicely with its more melodic tinged Metalcore approach that ends up being pretty catchy, and a bit more intense at times. Sadly the last track of the release, “Live and Learn,” doesn’t live up to that standard and ends up just feeling mediocre with some solid Thrash driven riffs in there that are hurt by the slower generic material and altered vocals that feel way too over-the-top for this release.

While “Live and Learn” does technically end the album, there’s still more available on this release then that in the form of two bonus tracks. “Traitor Scum” does make for a nice addition and actually makes for a better track then half of the more Metalcore driven cuts to the release. There are plenty of good headbanging moments with a strong intensity and catchy riffs that don’t cater to melodic concepts and just make it an overall more aggressive track from Hate Squad that makes a nice addition to the album. “Every Second Counts,” however, ends up being a re-recorded version of the song that appeared on their 1996 EP Sub Zero – The Remixes. The song’s early Crossover Thrash music here is actually really enjoyable and has more of a light-hearted approach to it that’s fun but also a bit self realizing and uplifting. However, the audio really takes away from what would sound so much better as an early nineties audio quality song, or even something a little more analog from the late eighties. There’s also the way the vocals are handled now that really ends up hurting this track. Had there been a traditional raspy approach or something similar to it’s Punk roots like some screaming instead of the deeper more guttural approach of the album, this song would have been really enjoyable despite it being a re-recording. But, alas, the modern sound of the band hurts the original style of the music from their earliest days, and it all ends up not shocking anyone.

Sadly, Hate Squad‘s latest effort boasts some exceptional material, and some generic, cliché songs as well. While Katharsis starts out strong with a heavy Death Metal influence to the Thrash tinged Metalcore sound, the rest just takes a slightly more aggressive sound to traditional Metalcore music that has a more melodic push to it through the hooks. Unfortunately that material creeps up too fast and lasts too long. Many of the more intense tracks here do manage to get your head banging along with some impressively hostile cuts that really shine a strong spotlight on Hate Squad, but those are few and far between. The band has the potential to really make a brutal impact on the modern Metalcore scene, but they seem to just throw it around like it’s nothing, which has always been one of the flaws of the band’s material over the years, at least with their more modern offerings. Either way, Katharsis is worth sampling for some of the better tracks, but the whole release is better ignored for it’s more standard material unless you just like tame hooks with a bit more of a bad ass Hardcore approach to Death Metal aggression.


01. Deep Scars – 1:09
02. Katharsis – 6:19
03. Your Rotten Life – 3:50
04. The One – 4:25
05. Hatebomb – 4:04
06. A.P.A.B. – 4:18
07. Misanthropic Soul – 0:59
08. Vicious Assault – 4:56
09. Old Times…Good Times! – 4:48
10. Kill – 4:23
11. R3VOLUT1ON1ST – 5:05
12. Face Your Demon – 0:59
13. Live and Learn – 3:59
14. Traitor Scum (Bonus Track) – 4:18
15. Every Second Counts (2011) (Bonus Track) – 3:01
Initial Pressing Score: 5.5/10

Hate Squad
Hate Squad

Digital review copy of this release provided by Massacre Records.