It is perhaps fitting that we should get to spend tonight in the company of Hatebreed. The awful news about Jeff Hanneman hit everyone who loves metal hard this very morning, and the first couple of times RTM saw Hatebreed were as the opening act for Slayer.
Frontman Jamey Jasta gives a moving account of how those thrash legends, along with Motorhead gave his band a chance when no one else would and leads the crowd in a chant of “Slayer, Slayer” before a cover of “Ghosts Of War” is played in tribute.
Giving young bands a chance is clearly something that stuck with Jasta, as that is exactly what is happening on this jaunt. Humberside’s Demoraliser are up first, and take a lot from the main band’s hardcore-cum-thrash sound. Debut album “A Living Nightmare” is full of promise and closing song “Take Me” has a gargantuan riff to go with it. Worth keeping an eye on.
Perhaps they put something in the water up in Lincolnshire, because the next support, Black Dogs, are from Grimsby too. Like Demoraliser they are promising, but for our money slightly less polished than their predecessors. As you would expect from a band who is yet to release a record, there is a touch of naivety to their songs, vocalist Gollo, dedicates a track to “anyone who is getting laid after the show” while there is a song called “13 Bastards” and closing number “Bitterness” is apparently for “anyone who works a 9-5.” The band are on the rise, though and have bagged themselves a slot at Download, so good luck to them as they grow.
At this point in their careers you know exactly what to expect from Hatebreed. They have toured enough to build a rabid fanbase and to be able to sell 500 capacity venues like this with ease.
No longer just a hardcore band, they are one of the finest thrash bands around when they want to be, and they showcase this side of their sound amply on new record “The Divinity Of Purpose” although even here they find sufficient anger to write a song called “Honour Never Dies” which contains the chorus of “standing for what you believe, means standing alone.”
It isn’t all anger though, as the bands message is one of unity, positivity and brotherhood and there are plenty of cheesy rock antics with the crowd being split up for a good old singalong.
In addition to the newer songs – indeed the gig starts with two tracks from the previous self-titled record including a brilliant “Everyone Bleeds Now” – there is plenty of stuff from their early period, such as “Defeatist,” and if anyone has come up with a better rabble rousing anthem in the last few years we haven’t heard it.
Crowd surfers and circle pits abound as the temperature, almost literally it seems, reaches boiling point before the end. The band are only onstage for 75 minutes bur race through over 20 songs, before “Destroy Everything” ends things in his glorious way.
Modern metal lost one of its most influential figures today, however, as long as bands like Hatebreed are there to carry on the work started by the greats of the 1980s, then thrash metal is in safe hands. This was the best possible way to honour Jeff Hanneman.
Reign in Blood, indeed.