An institution can be relied on. Its foundations don’t shake due to the winds of change or tides of trends – no matter how volatile, omnipresent, or tenuous.
With steadfast determination, drive, and dedication, HATEBREED cement themselves as one of heavy music’s strongest institutions on their seventh full-length offering and very first for Nuclear Blast worldwide, 2016’s »The Concrete Confessional«. Since 1994, the Connecticut quintet – Jamey Jasta (vocals), Chris Beattie (bass), Wayne Lozinak (guitars), Frank Novinec (guitars), and Matthew Byrne (drums) – has risen to the ranks of hardcore and heavy metal elite with a GRAMMY® Award nomination, main stage slots on festivals, and countless fans worldwide. 2013’s The Divinity Of Purpose earned their highest entry on the Billboard Top 200, bowing at #17 with impressive first-week sales in excess of 17,000. When it came time to return to the studio after two years on the road, Jasta and his cohorts clung to the bedrock on which their legacy stands firm.
“There’s nothing better than loud amps in the face, cranked up riffs that hit you right in the chest and lyrics that spark a new thought and give you a charge,” he declares. “That’s our musical DNA. We could just be who we are. We don’t need to incorporate whatever the trend is. We can just be HATEBREED. There are some new highlights to the game, but you know it’s us.”
The Divinity Of Purpose brought them to new areas of the globe as the headlined festivals in the UK, Finland, Norway, Germany, and Eastern Europe and landed a slot on Ozzfest Japan. They would perform at Poland’s Woodstock in front of 400,000 people. Stateside, the band supported longtime friends BLACK LABEL SOCIETY in the winter of 2015 and then got the opportunity to be direct support to SLIPKNOT on a spring 2015 run in between festival appearances at Rock On The Range, Welcome To Rockville, and more as well as MOTÖRHEAD’s Motörboat with SLAYER and MOTÖRHEAD.
“Riding into this album, I realized we could play with bands of every genre nearly anywhere without deviating from who we are,” continues Jasta. “The Motörboat was another real career highlight. We played this exclusive event with some of our chief influences. We got to literally chart new territory.”
Returning home in the fall of 2015, they entered the studio with longtime producer Zeuss (ROB ZOMBIE, SOULFLY). Immediately, they channeled the spirit that’s long defined their signature sound. By January, the record was mixed by Josh Wilbur (MEGADETH, LAMB OF GOD) and primed for ignition.
“We had a really good vibe in the studio,” he says. “The record is a snapshot of this time for us.”
It also reflects what’s going on outside. The opening track and first single ‘A.D.’ fuses together torrential thrashed-out guitars, double bass drums, and Jasta’s immortal growl before an incendiary lead. The singer dissects what the American Dream means in a climate of upheaval. “Fight fire with fire, you’ll see everyone’s burning,” he screams. Think of it as »Vote With A Bullet« or »Holy Wars…The Punishment Due« for the Instagram age.
“It’s a mirror of both sides of the story whether it’s what you believe in the media or what you actually see,” he explains. “Musically, it came together quickly. It’s about all of the frustrated feelings that come out when I turn on the news. So much of our attention is focused on the wrong areas. People want to one-up each other with better clothes and cars, and it’s all bullshit. Nobody goes to the grave with any of that stuff. It’s not all instant gratification. What exists on the phone and computer isn’t what exists in real life. What is the American Dream anymore?”
The machine gun chug of ‘Looking Down The Barrel Of Today’ proves equally uplifting and undeniable. “I wanted something to get crowds pumped up,” he admits. “So many fans will tell us, “Your records help me get through my life.” I needed to encourage this cyclical power to get up and face the day. You either make the best of today, or you’re done in by it.”
‘Something’s Off’ carries an ominously lyrical bass line into a guttural chant, showcasing Jasta’s chilling vocal dynamics in the process. “I’ve written songs about depression, alcoholism, and falling back into destructive patterns,” he says. “However, I never felt like I could really put my finger on what anxiety is. It’s not just social anxiety but this unexplained feeling of unease, like I’m in a fog. I’ve felt it occasionally since I was in grade school. You can’t control when it happens. Heavy music has kept that beast at bay – in addition to exercise and experiences with my family. I had to confront it directly in the lyrics here.”
Elsewhere, ‘Remember When’ and ‘Slaughtered In Their Dreams’ juxtapose visceral lyricism with a searing sonic backdrop as chaotic as it is catchy. Through and through, »The Concrete Confessional« is classic HATEBREED.
In order to transfer this message to the masses, the band inked a global deal with Nuclear Blast. “They’re world-renowned mainstays in the metal community,” he smiles. “We get to be in the company of career bands we look up to.”
HATEBREED have come a long way from the East Coast’s storied nineties underground scene. Their journey has seen them achieve a 2005 GRAMMY® Award nod in the category of “Best Metal Performance” for »Live For This«, sell over 1,2 million records, and land a #1 debut on Billboard’s DVD Chart with 2009’s »Live Dominance«. Moreover, they’ve annihilated audiences from Mayhem Fest to Ozzfest Japan and Download Festival to Wacken, Hellfest, and beyond.
Now, The Concrete Confessional fits right into the bold, bloody, and beating heart of the HATEBREED institution.
“The title had to be something that was heavy and hard, but also vulnerable and honest,” Jasta leaves off. “Heavy music is this cleansing, therapeutic, and cathartic experience for so many. You’re there, the guitars are crushing you, and someone’s screaming their head off – sharing their pain and aspects of their life through words, poetry, or songs. There’s nothing like it. You confess you have negative thoughts, and you purge them. For however long you’re at the show, there are no bills to pay, issues to deal with, or problems holding you back. You can be free (Facebook.com).”
Make no mistake: the massively influential merchants of sludge never went away. But as the
th year of existence dawns and their tenth full length album is unleashed upon the
world, co founder, frontman and riff-making warhorse Kirk Windstein is determined to give the
band he unapologetically calls his “baby” the total dedication it demands. The unrestrained push
and relentless concentration surrounding Symmetry in Black is music to the ears – figuratively
and literally – for new adherents and the legion of underground fans and fellow musicians who
swore allegiance to Crowbar long ago.
Symmetry in Black is the perfect album to arrive in the number ten slot of the Crowbar catalog, a
penultimate achievement embodying the early sloth of doom touchstone Obedience Thru
Suffering (1991), the moody dissonance of modern classic Odd Fellows Rest (1998) and the crisp
thunder of the album’s eOne Metal predecessor, Sever the Wicked Hand (2011), with nuggets
of Crowbar’s storied history sprinkled throughout.
The crushing signature sound of Crowbar is at its peak on Symmetry in Black, the band’s most
diverse yet cohesive release. It was coproduced with fellow New Orleans resident Duane
Simoneaux, who worked on Sever the Wicked Hand and mixed by Josh Wilbur, whose diverse
credits include work with Lamb Of God, Gojira and Killer Be Killed.
“We needed to move our sound forward but at the same time, make sure everything stayed
100% true to who and what we are,” Windstein explains. “The album is heavy, dark and killer.
There’s everything we are on here. It’s just Crowbar 2014. We’re really proud and excited. And
where we stand with Crowbar right now, we can only go up.”
Crowbar’s influence looms over every doom band started since, even stretching to NWOAHM
bands like Unearth, Chimaira and Killswitch Engage, whose bassist, Mike D’Antonio, did the
artwork for Crowbar’s last album. Throwdown covered “Planets Collide” back in 2007.
Underground bands like Primitive Man and Vengeful have tackled Crowbar classics, as well.
Hatebreed covered “All I Had (I Gave)” and the band’s frontman, Jamey Jasta, is such a fan he
started the Kingdom of Sorrow side-project with Windstein. He eventually came onboard as a
Crowbar manager and advisor, as well.
The sludgy, swampy, boundary pushing, ball-busting spirit of Crowbar and their extended family
is as synonymous with New Orleans as Black Metal is with Scandinavia, old-school hip-hop with
the Boogie Down Bronx and hair metal with Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. The resilience of the
hurricane hardened populace, the scent of slow-cooking seafood, the horrific haunts of The
House of Shock and the ferocity of the never-sparkling, grim killers of Anne Rice’s old-school
vampire books all lurk somewhere within the Crowbar sound, oozing with the primitive weight
of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus.
Windstein has cleared his calendar in order to put every ounce of his focus into what he lovingly
calls “the family business,” charging full-throttle into worldwide touring in support of Crowbar’s
new masterpiece, together with drummer Tommy Buckley (by his side for nearly a decade),
longtime guitarist Matt Brunson and new bassist Jeff Golden.
“I’ve heard Lemmy say it and I’ll say the same thing: there’s been times where I was the only
member in Crowbar, just like Lemmy in Motörhead,” says Windstein. “When we did the
Lifesblood for the Downtrodden record [in 2005], there wasn’t a band. That’s why Craig
Nunenmacher, who was in Black Label Society, played drums. And Rex Brown, who is still a great
friend, played bass and produced. We jammed, but there wasn’t a band.”
Crowbar in 2014 is rock solid, with everyone in the quartet unified by a shared vision.
Crowbar’s New Orleans DNA is shared by their brothers in bands like Eyehategod, Soilent Green,
Goatwhore and Graveyard Rodeo, who started around the same time. Each group is an innovator
in its own right, markedly different from one another, but sharing some sort of intangible vibe.
Rock has been in Windstein’s blood from day one.
“I was born in 1965 in England,” he explains. “We didn’t leave until ’66. My dad was there for the
whole Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Beatles thing as a young guy in the Air Force. He
was a Stones fanatic that was his favorite band. Elvis, too.”
Kirk Windstein fell in love with hard rock thanks to Kiss and Van Halen, before going headfirst
into the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. The debut records from Metallica, Megadeth and
Anthrax were super important for him, too. It’s funny to think about now, but the man whose
career has been defined by doom was once in thrash bands. But the deeper he delved into the
Black Sabbath catalog, with a little extra spice from The Melvins seminal Gluey Porch Treatments
debut and the crossover rumblings of the late Peter Steele’s pre-Type O Negative band
Carnivore, Windstein found his muse.
Let everyone else play as fast as they can. “I ended up saying, ‘you know what? I want to do
exactly the opposite.’ So I tuned the guitars as low as they could go. At the time, I didn’t even
understand what gauge strings to use. Play it slow and as doomy as shit.”
He played in early incarnations of what would become Crowbar (operating under different
names, like Shell Shock, Aftershock, Wreqiuem and The Slugs) with Jimmy Bower in 1989. Bassist
Todd Strange was onboard before The Slugs renamed themselves Crowbar in 1991, with
drummer Craig Nunenmacher and guitarist Kevin Noonan.
“Everyone hated us at first because we were doing something so different,” Windstein recalls
with a laugh. “We’d turn up the volume know for the feedback, let a chord ring out at the end of
a song and go right into the next one. I wouldn’t talk to the crowd. If we’d stop for a few
moments, it would be crickets. Nobody knew what to make of it.”
Obedience Thru Suffering unveiled to the world what Crowbar had developed in New Orleans.
The patronage of Pantera frontman and fellow New Orleans resident Phil Anselmo gave
Crowbar a leg up. He produced their sophomore album, 1992’s Crowbar and wore a
Crowbar/Eyehategod shirt in the video for the Pantera classic, “I’m Broken.”
Beavis and Butthead even featured Crowbar videos and Pantera took them on tour. Anselmo
and Windstein joined forces in the supergroup Down, together with Strange, Bower, and
Corrosion of Conformity’s Pepper Keenan. The band’s 1995 major label debut, NOLA, eventually
went platinum with over 1 million sales in the United States alone. Down continued off and on for
the next twenty years, releasing two more full-length albums, a handful of EPs and more. But as
much as Windstein loved being in the band, he realized the scheduling was shortchanging his
main priority, Crowbar.
“I am thoroughly proud of the 22 years I was in Down,” Windstein states emphatically,
stressing his departure was nothing personal on either side. Sever the Wicked Hand
enjoyed incredible reviews and put Crowbar on the Billboard 200 for the first time, but
the momentum generated by the band and their label partners ended too quickly.
“As soon as that ball got rolling, I got an email that we were about to do this or that
with Down. Do I miss Down? Of course I miss those guys, the music. I’m very proud of
the legacy of Down. But Crowbar is my baby, my creation. Now that I have nothing to
stop me from throwing nothing less than 100 percent into Crowbar, it’s a fantastic
The 25 years of working on Crowbar in fits and starts has culminated in a renewed focus on
world domination, embarked upon by a tightknit lineup sharing a common goal. “We’ve grown
so close as a band since this became my biggest focus,” Windstein says. “I’m always open to side
things here and there, like Kingdom of Sorrow, but nothing is going to stand in the way of what
Crowbar does ever again. This is my musical focus.”
“We’ve gone through a lot,” he adds. “Our drummer had prostate cancer. What Tommy went
through with his health brought us closer together, because we were there for him as friends.
The morale has never been higher since we were kids. It’s equivalent to when me and Jimmy and
Todd first got this thing rolling back in 1989. I’m hungry again.”
Though their sound has evolved dramatically since their inception, Twitching Tongues was born of LA’s hardcore scene in 2009. Formed by brothers Colin Young (vocals) and Taylor Young (guitar/vocals) alongside drummer Michael Cesario and bassist Keith Paull, the unit slowly established their reputation locally, embracing the DIY ethic. With their 2010 demo already circulating, their first official release, I & I (Insane & Inhumane) 7”, arrived in 2011, and by the time of July that year rolled around they were touring the US twice annually, also embarking on their first European tour.
Their debut full-length Sleep Therapy was a somewhat bluesier affair than initially intended, and while increasing their profile lacked the grit of the records that followed. Though tracked in 2010, it was not officially released until March of 2012, and it had been circulating on the internet for several months prior to release. Following that was their Preacher Man 7” EP, and their sophomore full-length, 2013’s In Love There Is No Law, where the band’s sound evolved into something that more substantially separated them from their peers. It was during this era that the band experienced their first substantial lineup change, with bassist Paull replaced by Kyle Thomas and second guitarist Leo Orozco also added to their ranks. Taking a darker, harder direction though also inherently melodic, this collection of songs featured a broader spectrum of dynamics, making them a far more unique – and hard to classify – proposition. This sound firmly established Twitching Tongues and what they were about, though not quite fitting in anywhere also made other bands hesitant to take them on the road, leading them to headline constantly. Regardless, through the strength of the record, combined with ever-spreading word of mouth concerning their live shows and an intense touring schedule their fan base continued to grow. This lineup recorded the band’s third full-length, Disharmony (2015), the most ambitious album they had released at that point. Evolving even further from their origins, the unit further upped the aggression and embraced a variety of styles, and vocalist Young delivered the most frank lyrics of his career. While this drew new fans to the band and met with many favorable reviews, it also served to alienate a proportion of their followers, the members having correctly anticipated that it would have a somewhat polarizing effect on those that had connected with their earlier output, though it remains a record of which the Young brothers remain proud.
However, the album also had an inner-polarizing effect, and following the release of Disharmony, Thomas, Orozco and founding member Cesario exited the band to pursue other projects. While this potentially placed Twitching Tongues’ future in jeopardy, Colin and Taylor Young remained intent to move forward, and they went about recruiting drummer Cayle Sain, bassist Alec Faber, and guitarist Sean Martin. With this revamped lineup, the band entered into the writing process for their fourth full-length, Gaining Purpose Through Passionate Hatred. The title, drawn from a quote by famed social philosopher Eric Hoffer – ‘Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life’ – reflects the band’s mentality in approaching the record: paying homage to those who supported them while belligerently responding to their detractors. With ‘failure’ as a core theme driving Colin Young’s lyrics, it also features his first foray into the political arena, motivated by the contemporary political climate to speak his mind. Directly inspired by film scores, the record has a strong epic feel, the band realizing their vision of having the music flow like a story being told. With interconnected parts, musical references and callbacks in each song, everything is tied together in a manner unlike any of their previous releases. At the same time, while maintaining the same levels of hardness and aggression that has characterized their later work, it features much more immediate and memorable melodies, which evoke the sound of In Love There Is No Law yet at the same time feel fresh and new.
Having rounded out 2017 on tour with the likes of Hatebreed, Dying Fetus and previous tour mates Code Orange, in 2018 they will be touring directly in support of Gaining Purpose Through Passionate Hatred.