It’s just after 7 pm during the last night of November at The Masquerade. Twitching Tongues, the show opener, isn’t even finished with their first song and already an explosive mosh pit has erupted from this hyperactive crowd of Atlantans. After they wrap up, we still have to endure the brutality of Code Orange and Dying Fetus before Hatebreed ignites the stage. Clearly, nobody’s leaving this place tonight without at least a bruise or two.
It’s all in good spirits, of course. Hatebreed has provided a positive outlet for fans worldwide with their aggressive sounds and inspirational lyricism for decades. In fact, this past November marked the 20-year anniversary of Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire. To celebrate, each song from the hugely influential debut album was performed, sprinkled throughout the set. This was clearly to the audience’s delight, ranging from new fans introduced to Hatebreed during this last summer’s Warped Tour to old-school fans, who have returned from what front-man Jamey Jasta affectionately calls “mosh retirement.”
This evening’s lineup could not have been more tactfully chosen. Twitching Tongues, featuring Sean Martin, formally of Hatebreed (more on him to come later) and Taylor Young, also of Nails, brought a broad-spectrum of throwback thrash influences, with some modern twists and disgustingly heavy breakdowns. Dying Fetus delivered the face-melting technicality for fans craving some virtuosity in their grindcore. The only thing about Dying Fetus that is more disturbing than their lyrics and shredding prowess is the fact that the band achieves their monstrous sound as a three-piece.
Code Orange played second in the lineup, and was far and away the odd duck of the night. Daringly, they jump started their set with “Forever,” a song that is supported with a seriously badass music video that helped them gain global attention. If opening their set with their most recognizable song seems like a bizarre choice, you should sit down with one of their records soon. Featuring unexpected rhythmic changes, synth and noise-latent interludes, and even grunge-esque sing-alongs like “Bleeding In The Blur,” Code Orange is a delightfully dynamic and weird band. By the end of their set, they had favorably turned most of their fence-dwelling listeners into new fans, leaving them hungry to hear more of their artsy, heavy tunes.
Around 10 pm, Hatebreed finally hit the stage to a screaming and full house, accompanied with some ironically cheery Christmas music blasting out of the sound system. Wasting no time, they fittingly kicked off their set with “Empty Promises,” the first song off the now 20-year-old debut album. The song is just a little over a minute long, and tells you pretty much everything you need to know about these hardcore legends. It’s brief, it’s heavy, and it’s forcefully direct. Careful not to let the momentum dissipate, they quickly followed up with “A Call For Blood.” These first two songs served as a prelude to what would be a compact hour of old and new fan-favorites, countless circle pits, and controlled chaos.
There are few humans that share Jasta’s endurance on stage or in life. Juggling the duties of fatherhood, relentless touring, and producing and hosting his hugely popular podcast, The Jasta Show, his persona seems like one of a never-ending marathon runner. Cramming 25 songs into a roughly 60 minute timeframe, his voice remarkably never quivered and his enthusiasm never wavered. Perhaps no song embodies this charisma quite like “Looking Down The Barrel Of Today,” which was played in the first half of their set. “No sleep, no rest, if that’s what it takes to be the best.”
Hatebreed fosters pride in their listeners in the hopes of building self-respect and camaraderie, not arrogance. “Look out for each other, because we’re in this together,” exclaimed Jasta before launching into “You’re Never Alone.” This was a repeat theme throughout the night, with what few breaks that existed between songs usually being treated as an opportunity to encourage unity. No moment made this clearer than when the song “Conceived Through An Act Of Violence” came to an immediate and unexpected halt. In order to ensure the safety of his entire audience, Jasta intervened against an impending brawl, directing an attendee who was becoming rapidly hostile to simply walk away and take a much-needed breather. He further took the opportunity to remind everyone that Hatebreed shows are no place “for bullying, for racism, for homophobia, for sexism, or harassment. We’re in it together. Every man, woman, or however you identify.” This was met with thunderous applause, and a potential crisis averted.
Dusting off the brief interruption, Jasta summoned Sean Martin to return to the stage to help play a few remaining hits from Perseverance. Closing the evening with “I Will Be Heard,” there was no person left in that entire venue standing still. It was an incredible display of consensual anarchism, met with mutual respect among the enormous group of Georgian maniacs. Most of the audience is likely still feeling the impacts of this spectacular performance, both emotionally and physically, and eagerly hoping for the band’s return to The Masquerade in the near future.
Hatebreed continues their tour throughout December and January in the U.S. and in Europe. Check their website for dates that may be coming near you, or for other band-related updates.
Words by Andrew Humphrey