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Negativehate - Shapeshifter (Self-Released)

30 December 2023

Monroe, New York’s Negativehate are back with their newest album entitled Shapeshifter, and in some ways the group have streamlined their intent here. Instead of building the album around some intricate, carefully-planned concept, Shapeshifter is about a band being a band, jamming and exploring their sound together. Negativehate is already known for their diversity in styles and their effortless ability to combine a number of genres into one larger whole, but this may just be their most eclectic release yet. Exploring everything from jazz to metal to prog rock to blues, the band also has a wide array of influences including disparate names such as Tom Waits and Deftones.

The album begins with the swirling yet seemingly unassuming “Infinity Bias,” a track that gradually explodes into a dramatic tempest of screaming vocals, thundering drums, and violent guitars. It perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the record as expectations are frequently thrown out the window. Relatively shorter songs like “Echo Paradigm” or “Hiraeth” will change course numerous times over their durations, while the dynamics of the nine minute “Obsidian Dawn” are fairly consistent throughout, resulting in one of the most meditative moments here. Nevertheless, the wall of brute force is present throughout the entire album in ways that can often be uncompromising, and Shapeshifter leaves the listener with a terrific and bold display of passion, ambition, and a huge amount of talent.