Matt Byrne On Hatebreed's "Before The Fight"
Recording the new Hatebreed album was an on-again/off-again process, but for fans, The Divinity Of Purpose is nonstop intensity – especially the drumming. Once again, Hatebreed drummer Matt Byrne wraps up smarts, spontaneity, and unchained energy in one powerful package.
Byrne and his bandmates made Divinity, their sixth record, with an unusual workflow. They recorded at engineer Nick Bellmore’s Connecticut studio, Dexter’s Lab, located inside an office business park that allows all the noise necessary – as long as its after 5 p.m. To comply with the rules and move forward quickly, Hatebreed’s members had to cut demos and the album tracks by showing up on different days and recording separately – without ever jamming in the same room together.
This counter-intuitive writing process was cut up even further by frequent two-week tours to Europe. “Usually when you plan out a record,” Byrne notes, “you do preproduction, get all the tones dialed in, then concentrate on the recording process. But this was a constant push-and-pull type of schedule, which is different for us.”
The band’s battle is evident on “Before The Fight,” the first track completed with this workflow for Divinity. The first nine seconds of the song kicks in with a series of kick/cymbal choke double shots that shoot out in synch with a nasty staccato six string. “I’m really just accenting, putting tags on the guitar riff,” says Byrne. “It’s a busy riff, so having those pops and tags over it accents some of the complicatedness of the riff. Then I follow that up with a half-time beat to kind of smooth it over, and add a head-bobbing groove to it.”
And so he does. At 0:09, two explosive shots on the snare lead to a meaty beat – it’s a slow, hard strut that brings aggression to a slow boil. “I like to call it a ’caveman beat,’” Byrne grins. “It’s half-time on the hi-hat, and along with the kick and snare it slams you. It’s very Neanderthal style – that’s become one of Hatebreed’s trademarks. Whereas a lot of people would put a fast double bass beat there, I go the opposite way.”
Big fills appear in the pattern, and at 0:27 one leads directly into a temporary upshift to a punk/oi! beat, that then throttles down into Byrne’s caveman mode, all the better to back singer Jamey Jasta’s ferocious vocals. “This was the first song we worked on when we were writing the new record,” he explains, “and kind of parallels the push and pull of it. The half-time groove beat with the punk beat, and the whole linear fill – it’s slow, then it’s fast. This song is smooth with groove, but it’s also choppy.
Drums Tama Starclassic Maple (“’80s Camaro” custom finish; black nickel hoops/lugs)
1 22" x 18" Bass Drum
2 14" x 6" Maple Snare Drum (Gloss Black)
3 12" x 7" Tom
4 13" x 7" Tom
5 14" x 8" Tom
6 16" x 14" Floor Tom
7 18" x 16" Floor Tom
A 15" 2002 Sound Edge Hi-Hat
B 18" Rude Wild Crash
C 19" Rude Wild Crash
D 20" Rude Crash/Ride
E 22" Alpha Metal Ride
F 20" Rude Novo China
Electronics roland G Pad with TD-6 brain
Matt Byrne also uses Tama hardware and Tama Speed Cobra double pedal, Vater 5B wood-tip sticks, and Evans heads (G2 Clear, toms; Resonant Black, bottoms; Hybrid or ST Dry Coated, snare; Hazy 300, snare side, and EQ3, bass drum)