Hardcore heavyweights Hatebreed are celebrating 25 years of music. Two and a half decades worth of music that is certified to make you want to kick someone’s ass. In the world of hardcore and metal, that’s no small accomplishment. What better way to celebrate an achievement like this than to tour the country with some of the most influential bands from the world of underground music; Terror, Cro-Mags*, and Obituary. This tour stopped in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week to celebrate the last 25 years with a sold-out venue. Here’s how it went.
The first time I ever heard Hatebreed I was 16 years old, a junior in high school. I was blown away by how hard their music was. I held the opinion that no band could ever top how insanely brutal ‘Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire’ was for two years, until I got my hands on Terror’s demo. It was like being kicked in the teeth. To this day Terror remains one of my all-time favorite bands, and that first demo still blows me away. I was beyond thankful that they opened their set with one of my favorites, “Lowest of the Low”; followed up immediately by “Stick Tight” and “Overcome”, two more of my favorites. I saw Terror numerous times when I was younger. Anytime they played within 3-4 hours of my city, my friends and I would all pile into a car and drive to wherever they were at. I haven’t seen them play in years, so it was incredible to see them up close and live again.
Anyone that’s ever had any involvement with the hardcore/punk scene, especially the older guys, knows there are certain bands that really paved the way for the rest. Bands like Bad Brains, 7 Seconds, Murphy’s Law, Gorilla Biscuits.. Cro-Mags. Cro-Mags was that band that all the older guys listened to when I was coming up in the hardcore scene. It didn’t take long for me to acknowledge how important their contribution was to the music I loved so much, but I never became a huge fan. *Now, to clarify, due to legal reasons there are currently two different versions of Cro-Mags. Founding member Harley Flannigan’s version, which is Cro-Mags; and John Joseph/Mackie Jayson’s version, which as of August 2019 will be known as Cro-Mags JM. This tour featured Cro-Mags JM. This was my first time ever seeing any iteration of Cro-Mags so it was really rad to see them play, despite the rift between mostly original members. They kicked off their set with “World Peace” from their seminal first LP, ‘Age of Quarrel.’ There were covers thrown in to the set as well from Bad Brains and Leeway, and the covers were played flawlessly. They closed their set with what would be considered their most well known song, “Hard Times.” This is a song that everyone knows.. even people that don’t listen to Cro-Mags know this song, which caused the venue to go wild. I was thoroughly impressed with their performance, though I didn’t have any doubt otherwise beforehand.
I think it’s safe to say Obituary is a staple of American death metal – death metal in general really. They were one of the first death metal bands I remember ever being exposed to, and I’ve always considered them to be one of the best the genre has to offer. They got their start the same year that I did: 1984, in Tampa, FL. Aside from a hiatus from 97-03, they’ve been going hard for the duration of their time; churning out some of the best and most relentless death metal records ever unleashed on the world. Before the band took the stage, they lowered the lights, kicked on the smoke, and played a recording of Pat Travers’ song, “Snortin’ Whiskey” before finally coming out and opening with “Redneck Stomp” from their 2005 album ‘Frozen in Time.’ They threw in a cover of “Circle of the Tyrants” by Celtic Frost that had everyone banging their head. Their set ended on “Slowly We Rot” from their 1989 debut album of the same name. Obituary is always a great band to see, and this show was no exception.
Hatebreed is a band that I’ve seen a handful of times since high school. I’ve seen them in tiny venues with a few dozen other kids, and I’ve seen them in larger music halls with 1000+ people tearing the place apart. The one thing that I always remembered about their live shows was that they put the same energy into the set in front of a few dozen kids as they do for the 1000+ people in the music halls. The 750-person capacity Underground at the Fillmore in Charlotte, NC, was no different than any other Hatebreed show. Tickets for the show sold out long before the doors ever opened, which made me ask why this show wasn’t moved to the much larger Fillmore, which has a capacity of 2000 people. By the time Hatebreed began their set I was glad it was kept in the smaller venue. I first saw Hatebreed in 2000 after listening to ‘Satisfaction is the Death of Desire’ and ‘Under the Knife’ almost religiously for several years prior. This show reminded me of the first time I ever saw the band. I’m a sucker for anything that lets me relive important moments from my past, and going to some of those shows as a teenager helped shaped the person I ended up becoming. They opened up with three of the best songs they’ve ever written; “Empty Promises”, “Perseverance”, and “Puritan.” They played a solid mix from their rather large catalog, but hands down my favorites were “Before Dishonor,” “Conceived Through an Act of Violence,” and “Last Breath.” In my personal opinion Satisfaction is one of the best hardcore albums ever written.. period. Jamey Jasta was all smiles as he sported a shirt that read “PMA (positive mental attitude) to the grave”. It’s honestly always great to see someone that comes off as intimidating and aggressive as him, be genuinely thankful and appreciative of all the fans that have supported then through the years. They closed the show out with one of their biggest, and most well known songs, “I Will Be Heard” and I thought the venue was going to end up demolished with how crazy everyone went.
I know that music like this is often seen as serious, and aggressive, but the only word I can think of to describe the night is FUN. I had a blast seeing all the bands and reliving some of my younger days. The tour wrapped up a few days after the Charlotte date, in New Haven, CT; but it’ll pick up again on May 7th in Indiana before they start making their way out west. I’d list reasons for you to go see them, but honestly.. it’s fucking Hatebreed. That’s the only thing that needs to be said.