A Norwegian metal album and not a glimpse of corpsepaint in sight – who’d have thought it? “Navigate” is the second album from metalcore heavyweights The Hate Colony, following on from 2011’s well-received “Dead or Victorious”, and if nothing else proves that this band have a lot of angst and the ability to let it all out in a tight and well-honed manner.
I say “if nothing else” because despite all of the bluster, slickly-produced riffs and barrages of kick-drums, the songs on “Navigate” aren’t exactly memorable and to be honest, if you took out all of the gaps between the songs it’s doubtful that it would be noticeable as by the end of its 13 songs it is very difficult to pick the album apart into different sections, let alone tracks.
Which may sound a bit harsh as The Hate Colony do have something going for them as they can certainly play, the star of the show being drummer El Nigardo (possibly not his real name) and his precision battering – witness his blast-beating frenzy on the dizzyingly heavy ‘The Letter’ – but after the final strains of closing track ‘Welcome to the Hate Colony’ have faded from your ears, most of the album will have faded from your memory. While the album is playing, though, there are moments that leap out a little more than the rest, like the synth-heavy ‘When World’s Collide’ which sees vocalist Lord Mordor (again, I suspect not his real name) varying up the vocals a bit amongst some very Euro-metal riffs and keyboard melodies. It’s a good song, not a great one, but it does mark itself out as not just being fast-bit-chorus-fast-bit-chorus-beatdown-solo-chorus-till-fade.
Elsewhere, ‘Nothing Less’ is the perfect meeting between Lamb of God‘s crushing heaviosity and In Flames‘ melodic thrust, whilst ‘Blood Runs Black’ adds in some thicker guitars and Trivium-esque guitar solos to create possibly the best song on here and one that’ll likely see mosh pits explode if the band play it live.
The main problem with “Navigate” is that whilst it ticks all the boxes as far as brutal death/metalcore goes, it feels like an album that was created by box-ticking, i.e. generic. Moments that rise above the norm are too infrequent, with Lord Mordor‘s harsh vocals rarely deviating from throat-shredding and song structures not offering up much in the way of variety. The Hate Colony have the talent and ability to create some intense music and the clean production job is as crisp and glossy as anything by Killswitch Engage, but whilst that does possibly set them up for greater things to come if they work at it, for the moment “Navigate” may do enough to please hardened metalcore purists looking for the next thing but offers up little of interest for anyone not already fully invested.