NO HOPE, NO ESCAPE VOL. 1: WELCOME TO MY WAR
Being from the Cleveland area, I've seen a lot of bands get ignored for whatever reason. On the national side of things, most people look at bands north of Columbus as being from "Cleveland". Unfortunately though, that's not how it works. For as long as I've been in this scene, there were Akron bands and there were Cleveland bands. Even though it's only about a 30 mile drive, they have long been separated. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you factor in the difficulty to get the more quality gigs and exposure from Cleveland vs. Akron, you ended up seeing a lot of bands from Akron that just didn't get the appropriate amount of love on the national level. Looking back a decade or so when both scenes were both thriving, bands like Spawn, Funny, Funnel and NDE all failed to find record deals when they were superior to a good amount of those that did find success at that level. Hatecore Inc. is another that falls into that category.
To be honest about Hatecore Inc, this wasn't their only problem. This local band had more members come through their doors than Whitesnake or Megadeth, which never helps a local band that's trying to build a fanbase that starts with friends who take sides when a member leaves the fold. Still, under the neverending passion of guitarist Kris Dann, Hatecore Inc. has soldiered on. With a new lineup in tow (big surprise there!), they have returned with NO HOPE, NO ESCAPE VOL. 1: WELCOME TO MY WAR. In what is always their way, NO HOPE is an intense listen as you would expect. From start to finish, it's a riff driven, punishing extreme metal hammer to the skull that avoids any and all trappings of metalcore and the more recent emocore nonsense that has severely diluted this genre for the 20-something Hot Topic pussies calling themselves "metal" today. While I think the band does a horrible job classifying what it is they do (they reference bands like Pantera and Megadeth as influences, which I'm simply not hearing at all here), there's a level of viciousness here that needs to be heard to be appreciated. If you are looking for a better comparison, think more of a Napalm Death if they somehow found some melody to go with their brutal assault.
Having heard Hatecore Inc. and it's earlier predecessor N-Factor, it's interesting to see how much the band has grown musically. Guitarist Kris Dann is a fiery guitarist who provides some stark, yet crushing riffs that don't rely on speed as much as tone and tempo. Listening to a song like "Seven", your head gets bobbing as you follow along with the nasty riffs that drive the song. He's countered well by Chef on bass and Troy Hays on drums to create a nasty bottom end for the band. "Isolation" returns reworked a bit from their last release, but is greatly enhanced by better production and somewhat cooler fills provided by Hays. This song could very well be ripped from an early Chimaira recording session, as it has that same feel as some of the more raw stuff they did early on in their career.
Vocally, Daniel Allen steps in and adds his own flavor to the material. He really gives a new vibe to a lot of this music. He's got more range than anyone in Hatecore Inc. has shown in the past, and mixes in the occasional singing part here and there to add diversity to the sound. He works well with a female lead on "My Slave"; an interesting track that definitely features a good amount of Cleveland flavored vibe to it, as well as sowing the most growth this band has shown since their inception.
PITRIFF RATING - 88/100 - Solid effort. They lose some points because a couple of the songs fade a bit hard and almost feel like they were incomplete, but other than that, you've got a seriously enjoyable EP here on your hands to carry you through a half hour of metallic aggression. Definitely worth checking out.