Shattered Sun – Hope Within Hatred (Victory Records)Thursday, 23rd April 2015
Hype has a way of inflating expectations sometimes. Currently riding high on the Dark Roots of Thrash II tour with Testament and Exodus and already prepping for this summer’s Mayhem Festival, many eyes seem to be gravitating towards Shattered Sun. With a band of this variety, often-times the more opportunities that float their way, the more the underground metal community seeks to undermine them. But after a number of listens to Hope Within Hatred, it’s clear that Shattered Sun have the goods to back up their recent successes.
All but certain to draw comparisons to bands such as Killswitch Engage, a more apt analogy would be to their compatriots Shadows Fall. While the lead-off track, “The Ultimatum,” may seem to move towards KsE with its sing-a-long chorus and positive lyrics, much of the track gets its energy from high-energy thrash than poppy choruses and much of the album follows suit in the same manner. The guitar section has some thrashy chops and aren’t afraid to flex them on songs like “Waging War” and the title track, and they also toss in some melodic leads and soloing (see “Burning Regrets”) effectively. It’s clear the band has studied the old guard (Metallica, Testament) as well as the new and integrated parts of both.
When the band does decide to drop things into more ballad-esque territory, they thankfully avoid the emo-ish route that many metalcore bands have embraced, instead opting for a gritty, early ‘00s hard rock approach that fits surprisingly well and avoids some potential cheese (depending on one’s affinity for early ‘00s hard rock anyways). Vocalist Marcos Leal has the range to make things work at both the heavier and more melodic range of the band, and cuts “281” and “Return to Sender” utilize this feel, but even the chorus of the heavier “No Sympathy” uses it to the band’s advantage.
It’s refreshing to see a ‘core-driven band that emphasizes the riffing as much as the sugary choruses. The approach is bound to give Shattered Sun more opportunities as people realize they have more than the usual combo of catchy choruses and breakdowns to steer their ship. As the band continues to refine their approach, they could be on to big things.