Hatesphere

Ballet of the Brute

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After enduring more than a decade of anonymous labor in Europe's extreme metal trenches and releasing a couple of well-received albums to start the 2000s, Denmark's Hatesphere gained a little surer footing astride their rather daunting neo-thrash competition (the Haunted, Arch Enemy, anyone?) with their third long-player, 2004's Ballet of the Brute. Really two halves of a conceptual sonic whole, the opening pairing of instrumental "The Beginning and the End" and the aptly titled "Deathtrip" (both clocking in under two minutes in length) is positively lethal in its intensity, introducing listeners to the band's tightly spliced guitar-riffing and drum-pounding acrobatics, as well as the gargled death croak (bordering on hardcore) of vocalist Jacob Bredahl. Ensuing highlight "Vermin" shows that he's also quite capable of semi-melodic singing, too, and this sort of frequent vocal hopscotch from track to track soon becomes a distinguishing factor for Ballet of the Brute. Otherwise, Hatesphere's alternating fits of blinding velocity ("Downward to Nothing," "Blankeyed") and mid-paced death marching ("Only the Strongest...," "500 Dead People") is more often good than really great ("Warhead," for example, gets off on a mighty riff before fading from memory), with notable exceptions arriving with the truly face-planting moshing of "What I See I Despise" and the quite brilliant "Last Cut, Last Head," with its army of warring riffs. All in all, Ballet of the Brute delivers an efficient bludgeoning for the buck, without any all-time records for creativity or originality being broken. [The American release of Ballet of the Brute featured a terrifically warped cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark at the Moon" and a slightly more recognizable version of Anthrax's "Caught in a Mosh" as bonus tracks.]

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