HATESPHERE never struck me as much more than "just OK" modern thrashers. However, my time spent with the act's previous albums has been limited, so I figured I would nab "Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes", the Danish act's fifth release, for review and get to the heart of the matter. As it turns out, my initial impressions were basically correct, as the new album did little to change my mind.
That said, "Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes" does come with a steel pair of balls and a pissed off demeanor, neither attribute one that would cause you to turn it off in disgust by any means. Heaviness and punch are definitely not lacking on the release. However, songs like "Lies and Deceit" or "Floating" are aggressive, but the riffs and overall arranging on most tracks could stand a swifter kick in the ass. Vocalist Jacob Bredahl (who also produces along with the band) has a somewhat distinct, wild-eyed approach, which tends to breathe more life into the tunes. The boys do mix it up fairly well on this one, throwing in some cleaner vocals on "The Stain", riding a slithering pace through much of "Drinking with the King of the Dead", and utilizing death growls and a thick, quicker paced groove on "Damned Below Judas".
But that's the bitch of it; everything sounds fine and kicks a fair amount of booty, but I'm left thinking the impact could be much stronger. In other words, there is nothing deserving of being torn apart on "Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes", yet nothing to get truly excited about it either. Considering the number of quality modern thrash releases out there today, it is difficult to call this one a must-have. A "6" might even be a tad generous.