Hatebreed - For the Lions (Cover Artwork)


For the Lions (2009)


One may think Hatebreed doing a covers album that ranges from bands that are much more talented than they are (Metallica) to bands that sound exactly like them (Madball) would probably be an unmitigated disaster. What it ended up being is half-charming tribute album and, of course, half-unmitigated disaster.

They delayed its release to add more covers, so you know their heart is in the right place. However, one problem with the record is that, at 18 songs, it's about four covers too long. They don't exactly Hatebreedize every song, but you can make the argument that with Jamey Jasta's distinct, monotone vocals all of the songs have been, uh, Hatebred.

And therein lies the problem with about half the covers -- not the band's capability of playing something like Slayer, but Jamey Jasta's limited vocal ability hindering many of the songs. Most obvious is "Supertouch/Shitfit" by Bad Brains. I'm sure some of you who read that sentence imagined what it sounds like and laughed to themself. The band does a fine job giving it a metal edge but Jamey just can't handle HR's speed; the vocals sound choppy from having to digitally overlap the ends of some couplets to the beginning of the next just so Jamey can keep up with the speed. Another joke is the chorus of "Escape" by Metallica, where James Hetfield actually sings the chorus (uh oh!), this sounds like they put Hetfield's voice from the original into this version for those sections. Is that Jamey even singing?

"Thirsty and Miserable" by Black Flag, "It's the Limit" by Cro-Mags and "Sick of Talk" by Negative Approach are prime examples of where this album goes right: faithful but more aggressive and with high-quality drumming. Of course, they covered "Hatebreeders" by the Misfits and it's a total romp; the mass of guys in wifebeaters and camo shorts doing the gang vocals to the over-the-top "whoa-oh"s must have been an interesting sight in the studio.

Hatebreed deserve credit for not picking obvious songs in any of these band's discographies. You wouldn't take any of these versions over their originals, but the more memorable renderings like "Refuse-Resist" by Sepultura and "Evil Minds" by D.R.I. should get more spins in the future. Yet, at 48 minutes you'd wish Hatebreed did a little more with these covers, especially to cater to Jasta's vocals. Maybe slow down a song? Possibly? Eh, who am I kidding.