Modern thrash is a tricky genre to pinpoint. It could mean a band falls into the oft-maligned retro-thrash scene, or it could mean that they’re more akin to bands such as Lamb of God or The Haunted. Wisconsin’s Product of Hate falls somewhere in between those two. On their debut album Buried in Violence (Napalm Records), Product of Hate display a punishing blend of modern groove and classic thrash that is both awesome and frustrating. The opening track, ‘Kill. You. Now.’ begins with a flashy riff reminiscent of early Testament, which becomes a recurring treat that is sprinkled lightly throughout the album. The rest of the song follows the same kind of punishing groove/thrash that Exodus perfected during their Rob Dukes era. This can be said for nearly every song on Buried in Violence, really, save for the instrumental interlude ‘Vindicare,’ which displays a melodicism that is absent from the other ten tracks.
The sibling guitar duo of Gene and Cody Rathbone is Product of Hate’s most impressive and obvious strength. While they stick with relatively standard riffing for most of the album, the flashes of finesse and their excellent soloing prove that these are talented musicians. The clean and punchy audio mix, done by death metal legend James Murphy, adds a sharpness to the audio beatdown that Product of Hate inflicts upon its listeners. The most frustrating characteristic of this album lies mostly with the vocals, as they are the typical, generic “tough guy” vocals that are often found in groove metal and metalcore. The aforementioned Rob Dukes is a decent comparison, actually. Although, admittedly, Adam Gilley’s vocal range is much more varied than that of Dukes’, ranging from an effective death metal growl to an impressive thrash scream. One extreme or the other would give this album, and the band, much more of a singular identity. Instead, it’s difficult to differentiate the vocals here from any other metalcore vocalist. Another frustrating aspect is that a couple of songs, namely ‘Kill. You. Now’ and ‘Blood Coated Concrete’ lose steam near their end due to unnecessary deathcore-esque breakdowns. Going from thrash riff/guitar solo to brutal breakdown is quite jarring, and it immediately takes you out of the song.
Product of Hate’s tight musicianship and youthful exuberance proves that they should be a killer live act. While their debut lacks a bit in songwriting and originality, the band shows a ton of promise for the future.
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