Haterush - Mark of the Warrior
Black Lotus Records
Melodic Power/Heavy Metal
13 songs (50'33")
Release year: 2004
Black Lotus
Reviewed by Alex

It may seem that every tenth band’s moniker begins with Hate(something). Hate, Hatred, Hate Eternal, Hatesphere, Hateplow, Hatebreed, Hatework. In many, if not all, of those cases the metal on display is of the extreme, brutal variety. Why else would you start your band’s name with Hate, a pretty strong emotion? Young Swedes Haterush fool us in this regard, although Mark of the Warrior album title and cuts like Hold On and Sea of Love (imagine that!!) should be giving away that this is not likely to be a brutal metal record.

Isn’t it funny how so many melodic power metal bands brandish themselves to be the new hope for the genre, claim to divorce the old influences … only to proceed ahead with clichés beaten to pulp they have been played so often. Haterush make the claims … and then fall the prey to the routine.

Do not think for a second I am dumping on power metal. I have listened to many an album back in a day. Honestly though, I rarely do it now, those Hammerfall albums given away to friends or collecting dust. The formula for “success”, or rather for not sticking out like a sore thumb, has been simple. A couple (or at least one) of good guitarists capable of playing mid- to up-tempo palm muted chops and a few decent solos, a drummer skilled at double bass and a singer who will either be stratospherically high or, my preference, more manly. Combine it with pretty straightforward non-offensive lyrics and some “Warrior” flag unfurled, and the band is born. How do you distinguish yourself from the crowd then? Maybe it is some new melody, or some superspecial hook? Female singers? Violins? I have no idea. Haterush hasn’t figured that nuance much either. They are not overly concerned about it, however.

The Swedes seem to be very comfortable balancing modern power metal of Hammerfall school and earlier, more 80s, traditional heavy metal which could be born at the tip of the Malmsteen pen, minus the endless guitar jisms. Mark of the Warrior is as safe as an album can be. Sped up, palm muted, double bass supported Hammerfall/Insania riffs flow plentifully (Silver Bullet, Solitude Solution, bridge and verse of Face the Evil). When the tempo slows down (Guiding Star), Gamma Ray is a decent reference, down to spoken vocals in Warrior. Epic moments are present with anthem chorus and hammer-to-anvil riffs in Titans Will Fall, and as I mentioned above, reaching back to the 80s is showcased with Hold On, down to the song’s tried and true title. The song reminds me of Viking from Marching Out so much, it is not even funny.

Not escaping the cheese factor, I Will Survive is a blatant pop song and Sea of Love may have as well been titled Heaps of Cheese. I have to stop being smug, however, and say that Haterush does deliver in the hook department. Every song has at least one distinguishable chorus line which will make you hum it long after it is over.

Haterush musicianship is quite competent. Jan Sandberg’s chops are tight. His solos, even though practiced after Helloween (Silver Bullet, Fly or Die which has lyrics “Fly like an eagle”, believe it or not) are harmonized, well executed and do not last any more than they should. Drumming by Richard Holmgren rarely strays from the familiar territory, but in Sea of Love he comes to the rescue with some unusual beat. Stefan Embretsson sounds manly enough, even with some harshness in his voice (Warrior), and would do well not to squeal (Dying to Surrender). The band does not hang him out to dry and backup vocals, especially in those catchy choruses, are plentiful.

Despite the promo text, this will not break any new ground, but will be pleasant on the ears and other senses with its energy and melodic hooks. My personal favorite is the chorus of Solitude Solution, octave shift and all. If Hammerfall fans have a few bucks left in the purse, God knows there are so many clones around, they may spend it on Haterush and not be disappointed. For the rest of you, you have been warned, do not just look at the name.

Killing Songs :
Solitude Solution
Alex quoted 59 / 100
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