Hate Squad - Katharsis
I never am one to lend credence to the dictations and expectations of genre descriptors. If someone tells me a particular band is "hardcore", "indie", "synth-pop psychadelic jazz fusion" or whatever else, I am as guilty as anyone else to perhaps expect a certain thing. But if I am left surprised, well, all the better. According to their press release, Germany's Hate Squad are pure metalcore and have been honing their sound via live performances and 6 studio records since 1993. Forerunners of a sound, perhaps, but to my ears Katharsis is a mixed bag of solid metal and repetitive filler. Which way the scales lean furthest is really up to interpretation.
The 4-piece is in solid form throughout the record, with suitable and powerful vocals, riffing that never gets overzealous, working man's leads with minimal substance and a heavy dose of grit and punch. The bass is mostly an inaudible timekeeping, and the percussion is, like much run-of-the-mill metal these days, a driving force and a foundation. Most songs seem to cue off of the blasts and rolls, evolving in similar ways but showing enough variation to help Hate Squad stand out amongst the crowd. What I came to realize, sadly, is that the two tracks that got me the most exicted were merely interludes. Intro "Deep Scars" is nothing more than classical guitar noodling but it certainly leaves a lot to be expected (expectations which are never truly met). And "Misanthropic Soul" is a wonderful bit of guitar melody, something that begs to be utilized in a more fleshed out composition. Beyond that, the album is truly hit or miss, with the stronger first half giving us pretty good tracks like "Katharsis", "The One" and "A.P.A.B." It's worth noting that the band is at it's best when utilizing a Gothenburg-esque melodic death metal approach, typically seen in the chorus sections of many of these tracks. The true strength of this band lies in guitarist's Mark Kunnemann's ear for a catchy melody. When the band attempts to grind it out full-bore, it falls flat.
That may just be my over-experience with this style of metal speaking, but Hate Squad are far too eager, to my ears, to be lumped into a category of "been there, heard that". The duality of melodic highs and crushing lows is quite viable no matter how many times it's done, but variation in the mold must be found somewhere. Katharsis shows very little and, beyond some really promising moments of surprisingly well-written passages, is something I cannot fully recommend to anyone not drooling at the mouth at the idea of "metalcore". That's not a bash on the genre and it's certainly not my attempt to label them as such, but in this business you are forced to sum up your thoughts with such blasphemous terminology.
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on 2012-02-21 gutterseed Said:
The opening song is great. I loved the style, in fact, I actually listened to it twice. I find it interesting that a band from Germany would play such a hispanic themed song. Launch into the 2nd song and you're like, um....was that the same band? I had to double check to see as my reviews are usually done on first impressions while listening to the album.
I don't like growling music. I think it's a cop out for those who can't sing. I like that the vocals are slow enough to understand them and still have that growl sound, but still, come on. I think the lyrics are simple and boring, if you're going to make them understandable at least be creative. By the end of the album they must have been rushed or something, because the music speeds up and the growling becomes slurred. What a waste of time.
By song # 3 I was ready to just close up shop and go home. If you're going to do the growling thing, at least do it well. I skipped through the rest of the album and didn't feel this album was worth 100 words, let alone the average 4.5 minutes they want your attention for. Sure, some of the songs are 58 seconds, but I'm of the opinion that if a song is going to be 58 seconds you better get to the point, because that gap in between songs just sounds awful, which pretty much sums up this piece of garbage. Here's a tip guys, growl like a girl.