The hard rock act Hatebreed had been around for a few years before it signed to a major label for its 2002 album, Perseverance. That album became a huge breakthrough for the group and firmly put it on the hardcore/metalcore musical map.
“[Perseverance] is way more metal than [1997’s] Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire,” says drummer Matt Byrne via phone. “The target was to have all meat and potatoes and no filler, whether it be metal or hardcore. With the production value, Matt Hyde was doing it. He had just done Slayer’s God Hates Us All and stepped out of one metal production into another. Randy Staub mixed it. He did the Metallica stuff. We were surrounded by metal all around. The record was still fast. There were no solos or rise cymbals. I went the Lars [Ulrich] route for that. Our guitar tone was like [the English metal band] Carcass. It was just more of a metal album. We naturally went that way."
The group recorded the disc at Long View Farm Studio in Massachusetts. Aerosmith had recorded there and the Rolling Stones rehearsed there for one of their tours.
“There is a lot of history behind the place, and it was our first huge budget,” says Byrne when asked about working at the studio. “We were sequestered there because it’s in the middle of nowhere. We were living and breathing our music with no distractions. It made for a great experience.”
Initially, Byrne says he downplayed the album’s significance when he spoke about it in interviews, but he now acknowledges that it represented a breakthrough not just for Hatebreed but for heavy music in general. A song such as the anthemic "I Will Be Heard" features parched vocals and heavy percussion. The song delivers a real sense of urgency as Jamey Jasta screams lines like "I won't accept this fate."
“There was definitely an energy behind the album,” says Byrne. “We were poised to break down a lot of doors that were coming up with us or behind us at the time. I used to say we were doing what we naturally do. All of that is part of it, but looking back on 20 years of that record, parts of that feel like it happened last week. I remember the tracking of certain songs. There was this feeling that this thing was going to knock people on their asses. There was so much hype behind it. It was five years since Satisfaction, and we hadn’t been overseas. The hardcore genre was really brewing in Europe, and they really wanted Hatebreed. We were a hardcore band on a major label. We wanted to smash down all the barriers and doors and expectations.”
As much as critics lauded the band for its ability to fuse hardcore and metal, Byrne says he never thought of the group as metalcore.
“We were a crossover band,” he says. “We were metalheads but hardcore fans, and our music reflected all of that. Personally, I was always into metal first. I was into the thrash stuff and death metal. Hardcore came later for me. I never said the word ‘metalcore’ until about four years ago. It’s all heavy metal to me, man. Bands like Unearth or Killswitch Engage have waved the flag more for that genre and the new wave of American heavy metal. I never want to pigeonhole us as a hardcore band even though a lot of industry people do. We fit into any type of heavy tour. We sit well with the metalheads and the longhairs and the leather jacket-wearers, but we also do the karate kicking hardcore show. We encompass it all.
Perseverance features 15 songs, and Byrne says the group will include many of the tunes from it, including some it hasn’t played in years.
“We will bob and weave in and out of it,” he says when asked about how much of Perseverance will make its way into the set. “We have some new merchandise and the meet-and-greets will be really special. It’s going to be a celebration of that era and that record.”
Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].