Review: Hatriot “The Vale of Shadows” [Massacre Records]

Review: Hatriot “The Vale of Shadows” [Massacre Records]

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Score 90%
90 %
User Rating : 4.1 (1 votes)

The resurgence of Thrash metal in the last decade or so has certainly had a lot of buzz in the metal community, and you could say that the distinction between new school and old school thrash metal is somewhat of a divisive subject. Some people love that thrash metal has been resurfacing and gaining more momentum, taking it into new and unexplored directions, while also paying an homage to the genres pioneers from the 80’s, while others don’t believe that you can really beat the originals, and that the new wave of bands don’t really capture the same magic and authenticity that say, the big four, bay area or teutonic thrash metal scene had in the 80s. I mostly say all of this just to set the scene for one of the bands that are a product of this resurgence, and the subject for this review today, is the Oakland thrash metal band, Hatriot. Recently they released their fourth, and most recent album, which was put out by Massacre Records, the vale of shadows, so I thought I’d like to share my thoughts of it, and we can see whether or not you want to check it out.

So just to clarify, I’m not going to be saying that this is just one of those throwback thrash albums that will make you feel like you’re back in 1986 by any means, nor do I believe that it will necessarily sway you if you’re not particularly into this newer wave of thrash metal- I don’t really have much of a stance in the debate myself. But I’d definitely say that this is one of the bands that takes the genre in somewhat of a new direction while also staying true to its roots, being reminiscent of some of the bands that have cropped up in the last 10+ years, while also having callbacks from some of the bands that made waves in the 80s and 90s. Right off the bat it starts off with a very aggressive opening with the song horns and halos, which opens up to a very melodic, almost cathartic sounding track. The style really pushes into more of the extreme territory of thrash metal, with the style and production in this song almost pushing into melodic death/thrash territory almost, along the lines of something like battlecross in my opinion. The vocals are more on the extreme end as well, with almost a shrieking style, full of energy and fury- they almost remind me of the vocals of Kelly Shaefer from Atheist oddly enough- and the vocalist of this band continually impressed me throughout the album with the amount of energy he packs into his delivery. And- as we’ll see in the rest of the album- the first track has a very beautifully passionate sounding solo towards the end of the track, and also has an impassioned sounding melodic chorus.

As the album goes on, I found that none of the tracks were all that predictable I would say, I didn’t entirely know what to expect next, which only kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire listening experience. The song that follows horns & halos, the hate inside, immediately seems to contrast the melodic riffs of the opener, with its heavy and energetic riffs. Occasionally it has riffs that are pretty reminiscent of slayer, like the riff towards the end of forceful balance, but other times it reminds me of maybe Skeletonwitch or Revocation even with sections that might be melodic or technical; but it still seems to carry its own identity at the same time. I still haven’t listened to their other material as of the time I’m writing this, but this only makes me wonder how much they have evolved with each release, because it seems to me that they’re kind of coming into their own by now. But they really seem to keep it varied and interesting, with many memorable riffs throughout the album. Some tracks are much more on the heavier and aggressive side, others like the first and last track might be pretty melodic, and there is a nice dose of technicality in some of the riffs, without being too technical to follow, sometimes it even has some atmospheric moments that do a very good job at setting a tone, like in the twenty fifth hour, which starts off with a very sinister sounding atmosphere, other moments can be very oppressive like in the chorus of the hate inside, while the instrumental track murderous tranquility has clean guitars playing throughout the song that gives off a serene and tranquil atmosphere. Each member seems to play off of each other really well with the instrumental roles they play. The production is pretty polished, but that doesn’t really seem to detract from the sound at all in my opinion. I think that higher and lower quality production can be good depending on how well it fits the artist- something like perverted ceremony probably wouldn’t fit a highly polished production sound, and Inferi probably wouldn’t sound as good if it was recorded on a fischers price recording set.

The mark of the tyrant probably has some of my favorite riffs in the album, which are probably the most chaotic riffs of the album, which have a blistering quality to them, and it’s probably one of the most unrelenting and war-like songs of the album, which seems to fit the theme of the song, being about the tyranny of a genocidal tyrant from what I can gather. That one was probably the one that was the most headbangable for me personally- but it’s definitely not the only headbangable song for me, the song is full of bangers. Only red remains was up there for me, which just has a very cruel tone just in music and vocals, which seems to be what they were going for from what I could tell from the sample, and the lyrics that I could pick up on. Twenty fifth hour has a rapid fire delivery on the vocals in different parts of the song, packed with raw energy, and coupled with the killer riffs in that song, that’s another one of the songs that stood out the most to me. There really isn’t a bad song on the album as far as I’m concerned though, the musicianship is excellent, a lot of love goes into the solos and shredding, and the riffs are quite the work of art, and it has a wide range of tones, and upon my second listen to the album at least, I started noticing more of the nuance in the music as I picked up more on the stuff that I missed the first time around.

The title track probably encapsulates the most malevolent parts of this album all together, ranging from a chaotic assault, metallic groans of the guitar which lead up to a diabolical melody, and two solos that make you feel as if you’re being progressively enveloped by the darkest pits of Tartarus, and like I said, the album is bookended by two harsh, yet beautifully melodic tracks, horns and halos and hymn for the wicked. And I would say that that is probably how I would characterize the tone of the album, which is even captured by the dark and grotesque, but strangely beautiful cover art done by the legendary Paolo Girardi. The cover art and music both capture feelings of darkness, cruelty and bloodshed- but at the same time it is beautifully crafted.

So I would definitely recommend this album- it isn’t necessarily something you’d love if you don’t like the newer wave of thrash metal bands, but if you are into stuff like Havok, Skeletonwitch, Revocation, Warbringer or something, then this will be right up your alley. You might even, dare I say, love it.

The CD’s and LP’s are available on Amazon, but you can also get the CD from their big cartel page if you want to support the artist. You might be able to find one of the CD or LP pressings on Massacre Records website too, but I wasn’t able to find it myself.

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About the author

I’ve been into metal ever since high school. So naturally a passion for writing and metal probably would’ve lead me here at some point! I’ve always loved spreading the good word of under-the-radar bands that would probably make jesus, or at least your grandma cry (which, apparently I’ve done, not even trying to be edgy, that’s literally what she’s told me, I’m sorry grandma!).

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