Let’s say Revolver and Alternative Press Magazines called the record you were making one of their Most Anticipated of 2006 as you were in the midst of switching labels. Perhaps you also had a world tour mapped out before and after recording, including a run on the 2006 Ozzfest main stage, with just enough time built in to fly your vocalist home to tape episodes of the TV show he hosts – MTV2’s HEADBANGERS BALL. Throughout all this, you ran your various business ventures (an indie record label, clothing company, tattoo shop, managing real estate investments and much more) from cell phones wherever you were and called in news updates to various websites that cover your band and the scene to which you have dedicated a great portion of your life. With all this, you might very well be burnt out after 10 years in the spotlight. Jamey Jasta, Sean Martin, Chris Beattie and Matt Byrne – also known as Hatebreed with brand new member Frank Novinec – do it all, with a singular focus and hard-earned credibility only dreamt of by many of their contemporaries.
“I wanted to get in the right head space, to get back to square one, and to why I started expressing myself through music in the first place,” says frontman Jamey Jasta about Supremacy, his band’s fourth full-length and Roadrunner Records debut. “Once [bassist] Chris [Beattie] and [guitarist] Sean [Martin] started bringing ideas to the table, and I started arranging songs and reading through the lyrics I had compiled, I got excited again. I wanted to feed off that and the feelings that I had on our first record. I wanted to tap into those good feelings and adrenaline and to express and communicate them over the most intense album we’ve ever made.” Thanks to the visceral, fierce music contained on Supremacy, it appears that the members of Hatebreed , who were nominated for a Grammy in 2005, have gotten their “inspiration” back.
On Supremacy, Hatebreed, who’ve toured with everyone from Slayer to new labelmates Slipknot, deftly illustrate all the things that have made them one of the underground heavy metal scene’s most beloved and most important bands of the past decade. It also presents a new and improved Hatebreed, who took some time, celebrated their ten-year anniversary with a sold-out tour, reconnected with their fans, navigated some personal issues, and then recorded an album that is as hulking as it is tight, as tough as it positive. This Connecticut quintet – rounded out by drummer Matt Byrne and new second guitarist Frank Novinec – is ready to show the world why its throne atop the heavy metal kingdom with Supremacyis firmly intact. While a ‘positive’ Hatebreed might seem like a contradiction in terms, since they play aggressive music that sets off carnage-producing moshpits, Jasta pens lyrics that speak of hope, rising above, and believing in yourself. It is precisely those qualities that will allow Supremacyto connect with the kids on a profound level.
“You can’t have one without the other,” Jasta says about the band’s dichotomy of neck-snapping music paired with uplifting lyrics. “That’s our niche. It’s what we’ve done from the beginning.” He also says “we wanted to expand on it, without veering too far from what we’ve built,” when it came to crafting Supremacy. Jasta admits that he was in a bit of personal slump over the past two years, and that he considered leaving the music business. He was able to break the negative cycle, thanks to two essential things: his redirected focus and his fans. “I was becoming disenchanted with the music business, touring and other aspects of being in a band,” he admits. He thought long and hard about Hatebreed’s future, and when it came time to sit down and write Supremacy, he and the boys played with ideas demoing in different studios.
The ease and comfort of the process sparked Hatebreed’s creativity, and as a result, Supremacy combines the raw, intense bite of their debut, Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire, with the tectonic-plate-shifting power of Perseverance, resulting in their best effort to date. Jasta continues, “It was important to show on this record that it’s not how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up. I wanted to reconnect with positive energy, and convey that through the music. I wanted to stay on our path, but make it better, more concise, and turn any nonbelievers into believers.”
Jasta also contends that the main theme on Supremacy, which was produced and mixed by Zeuss at Planet Z in Massachusetts, is overcoming “feelings of depression, guilt, sadness, anxiety, alienation. I wanted to show that there is hope, and you have to start with yourself. You can’t help other people if you can’t help yourself.” Sonically, the band thickens its sound with the addition of Novinec, and Hatebreed plays with speeds, textures and explores new vocal terrain on Supremacy. “We did slow stuff, fast stuff, more double bass,” Jasta explains. “We wanted to accentuate the drive, the intensity, and make certain parts heavier. But we also wanted to make sure the message came through.” Here, Jasta enters some different vocal registers, previously unheard on Hatebreed records although you wont hear any clean guitar or vocal harmonies that’s for sure.
Supremacy contains the cathartic, cleansing “Destroy Everything” and the anthemic “Defeatist,” the chorus of which the Hatebreed faithful will scream at the top of their lungs at shows. About that song, Jasta says, “It’s like me talking to myself, and talking to people that I don’t want to be like. It’s about not defeating your purpose or giving into assumptions and doubts. That’s something that I never sang about.” The thoroughly cathartic “To The Threshold” was the focus track on Headbanger’s Ball: The Revenge, while the call-to-arms “Never Let It Die” and “Horrors Of Self” are songs where Jasta mined his personal life for source material. “I started chipping away, changing things I knew weren’t working for me,” Jasta says, referring to the turnaround that he experienced. “I had to mend relationships, cut other relationships off, and get back to why I wanted to be in a band. I had to reignite the spark, so to speak, because I was burnt out.” After logging 600 shows in a mere two years, the frontman turned the negative into a positive. “I started reading emails, letters, and reopened my PO box which was shut down due to the volume of mail I received,” Jasta reveals with candor. “I reconnected with fans on our 10-year anniversary tour and talked to the kids, and met with so many people who were motivated and inspired by our words, our songs, and had overcome worse problems than I ever had, so it made me appreciate the power of music again.”
Hatebreed’s fans gave back to the band, just like the band gave itself to the fans, showing the redemptive, cyclical power of their music. Ultimately, Supremacy is a testament to renewal and reconnecting. It is also the defining statement of one of metal’s most important, most “supreme” bands.
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