Jan 202011

(This is the third installment in this week’s run of brief album reviews – or at least brief by our usual standards.)

Five days ago we posted a review of a forthcoming album by a long-running Polish death metal band called Hate. At roughly the same time as we were listening to that album, we were also listening to a new album by a band called Hat, which is the Norwegian word for . . . wait for it . . . hate. Actually, it’s the word for hatred, but close enough. So, you could say it was a hate-filled week at NCS, except what we’re feeling for the music of Hat is far from hatred.

The Norwegian word hat is pronounced like the English word “hot”, and that’s a good word for Hat’s forthcoming album, Vortex of Death: It’s hot. That is, if you like your black metal extremely old school and chilled down to the temperature of liquid nitrogen.

Hat is a two-man horde originally formed in 1993 by Nevresch and Undertrykker under the name Ravner. They were inactive from 1996 to 2006, and then reunited under that Norwegian name for hatred. They released a demo in 2008 called Livet Ebber ut (“life ebbs away”) and then a debut record in 2009 called The Demise of Mankind. Perhaps you’re beginning to get the sense that in the world of Hat, there is no sweetness and light. But the album has hooked us, and one unusual song in particular.  (more after the jump, including a track . . .)

On Vortex of Death, Hat mainly uses the original playbook for its dark game: vocals that sound like cracked glass being pureed in a blender; repeating tremolo riffs in the treble end of the range; bass rhythms that are so pushed down in the mix as to be subterranean; and blasting drums that usually sound like they’re over in the next room, or maybe in the house at the end of the block, being played under a quilt — the sound of muffled mayhem, producing a creeping dread that your neighbor is eating another human being, with a hollow crash here and there.

As you might expect, the production is dialed back into the late 80s, presumably with intent, generating a primitive, analog, tape-deck kind of roughness. In other words, this knife has a dulled edge — but that doesn’t mean it won’t cut, because it does.

So, you may be asking, what sets Hat apart from dozens of other one- and two-man black-metal projects who seem intent on becoming facsimiles of First Wave progenitors? And the answer is that Vortex includes something more than endlessly repeating two- or three-chord tremolo haze, the non-stop rumble of muted blast-beats, and a cascade of acid-bath vocals — enough to maintain our interest and make Vortex worth writing about. For example:

The periodic appearance of droning, intoning, matter-of-fact, spoken vocals — the black mass recited solemnly — or layered wailing, to take the edge off all those nails-on-chalkboard, high-pitched screams of agony; the occasional sound of echoing bass verses, like a dark underlord proclaiming the end of all we know; in addition to those flensing guitar chords flaying flesh from your mental bones, the appearance of groaning, drop-key chords and bursts of what sound like distorted transformer faults; a solitary guitar interlude in “The Path To Immortality”; an isolated sweep of chords in “Tilintetgjorelsen”; the doomy clanging and ghostly sussurating in “Ultimate Evil”; and black ‘n roll rhythm shifts or almost tribal pounding that relieve the pressure of all that blasting.

And let’s not forget the spaces – the occasional easing of the drums and the frenzy of the guitars, to be replaced by melodic picking — the repetition, the frenzied melody, the building tension as the roller coaster climbs, and then the break and drop. But yes, always around the bend (or over the top), the tenor-heavy vibration of a blood-spurting tremolo arc lies in wait.

It’s true (or TRVE) that for the most part this album is curdled, oppressive, full of paint-stripper and no varnish. But it has still grabbed us — particularly one song, which most successfully pulls together the elements that make Vortex of Death worth some attention.

In this song, you find the onslaught and the melancholy pause, the demented vocals and the mournful wails, solitary pounding on what sounds like a timpani drum and an ancient horn at the end, and an ominous bass-end riff that’s so damned infectious it has drawn us back to this song a dozen times. The more we’ve listened, the stronger our conviction that this song isn’t just good, it’s brilliant. In English, the song title means “Annihilation”. But of course it does.

Hat: Tilintetgjorelsen

Vortex of Death will be released later this month on Abyss Records and is available for pre-order here.

  21 Responses to “QUICK TAKES: HAT”

  1. I don’t know why, but the beginning reminds of Anaal Nathrakh on morphine, especially the vocals.

    From an artistic perspective, I rather find this interesting. I like how they’ve used the production to really accentuate the vocals…

    From a pleasure perspective, not doing much for me….

    • And thank you for making me think of Anaal Nathrakh….

      • Which lead me to this:

        I don’t think he likes the music.

        I don’t know why, but I find these kinds of reviews hilarious. Like someone trying to understand a dead baby joke.
        Either you laughed when you were supposed to laugh, or you never will.

      • And thank you for making me think of Anaal Nathrakh. Which makes me think of Mick Kenney. Which makes me think of his new band with Brandan Schieppati (Bleeding Through), now called Suffer Well, which has just signed with Century Media. I’m curious what that will sound like. The press release is here:


        • They have a song up on myspace…I’m listening to it now…

          It sounds…like shitty metalcore with a slight edge to it.

          Oh, god, they’re gang singing.

          No, please, make it stop. OH, THE GANG SINGING….

          noooooooooooooooooooooo…now they’re gang whining. Ugggg…

          This song has one riff. Seriously, duna duna duna duna….i think they’re just running up
          and down a four note scale. What the fuck? I mean, I actually like the sound, but goddamn
          that’s lazy.

          “Remove the skin and just leave it behind.”
          Yep, this is officially a song about circumcision.

          And it’s called Treachery.

          And he mentioned choking regret. Did you know rabbis would suck a babies bloody cock after
          removing the foreskin? I’m not sure if that’s true, but I hope it is, because it fits in so well.

          Dude is pissed cause mommy had his wee-wee mangled. I can appreciate it.

          I cannot appreciate this shit.

          Hey! A new riff. This one seems to only have three notes.


          WHAT THE FUCK????

          • What has happened to Mick Kenney?!? From your vivid description, this sounds putrid, and not the good kind of putrid. I believe you have saved me some pain, and I’m all about avoidance of pain, so I’m not going to listen to this.

            • No, I think you should. Just to make sure I didn’t somehow end up on the wrong myspace page…

              Don’t let me suffer alone!!!

              • I trust your judgment . . . but I did as you asked. And yes, it’s completely unoriginal metalcore. I’m mystified why these people in particular would want to create music that was “current” about 5 years ago and by now has been done to death. Mystifying.

                • I never really liked bleeding through much anyway, but yah, it very much screams the question WHY!?!

                  If they wanna sell out, there has to be an easier way…
                  Like being a coke mule…

  2. So I meant to reply earlier with something relevant to the post, but work was insane today.

    On the first listen this did nothing for me at all, however after a few listens it grew on me. I’m not convinced I’d rush out to buy the album without further review but it shows some promise. However I tend to like my underproduced black metal slightly more blistering than this .

    Speaking of Anaal Nathrakh, how do people like feel about Fukpig? I really have to be in the mood to listen to it, it’s kinda like Anaal Nathralkh and Nasum had a bastard child.

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