(DGR wrote this detailed review of the new album by the Polish band Hate.)
There are some groups who exist like heavy metal’s undercurrent, groups who seem like they have always been there and never seem to age, as if the band were immortal, with each release they put out slotting neatly right next to the others in their career. Hate are one of those groups. Their martial brand of Satan-inspired, Anti-religion death metal has seemingly existed as part of heavy metal’s subculture forever, one of a small handful of bands playing a particular style, a constant go-to for a specific fix.
The new Hate album Tremendum marks the group’s tenth release in a little over twenty years. The thing that has kept Hate around like this, like many bands who’ve enjoyed a twenty-plus-year career in the metal business, is that Hate found a sound, and since locking into it, for better or worse, they have put out albums with differing variations on that overall style, but have never gone for a massive genre-shift or anything blindingly different. Hate are going to consistently sound like Hate. That is one of the ways you wind up a pillar of a genre, as Hate have done.
They built a strong foundation and since then have slowly added to it, or bent it into slightly new forms. You could say that since Hate’s 2005 disc Anaclasis: A Haunting Gospel Of Malice & Hatred, the group have done varying takes on a percussive and riff-driven brand of death metal that few groups play these days. Along the way, they have shed some elements, like the very light electronics layer, and added others — like a really hefty emphasis on the lower end, making the group sound particularly mighty at times — without ever losing that overall sense of speed or metronomic sense of precision.
However, you can’t continually put out the same type of album forever, and it felt like after the release of 2013’s Solarflesh even the band recognized this. And so came 2015’s Crusade:Zero — a disc I’m on record here as enjoying quite a bit — with its myriad intros and outros and music that felt lofty and big, but didn’t pick up the tempo too often — until you hit songs like “Doomsday Celebrities”, “Dawn Of War”, and “Rise Omega The Consequence!”, which wound up sounding a lot like songs that could’ve been part of the group’s previous releases.
Tremendum, an album that is being pitched as a more “furious” release from the band, certainly has a much lighter footprint in terms of number of songs, paring down on the ambient intros and outros, promising a more focused and much faster approach this time around, a familiar realm for these longtime purveyors of hellfire and brimstone.
Tremendum, like many albums later in a group’s career, is a pretty good collection of all the elements that Hate have played with up to this point. The band don’t really break new ground, but instead go with the music for which they’ve developed an artisan’s touch. They have an expertise in apocalyptic death metal, songs that sound much larger than the group’s four-man roster would hint at, and Tremendum’s nine songs nail that message into the ground. The songs here are large, but they don’t feel bloated and make no pretense of fucking around. Tremendum has one objective with its collected works, and it laser-focuses on that the whole time.
Of all the elements that do make a return in Tremendum’s amalgamated form, the ritualistic segments of Solarflesh shine the brightest early on. While Hate really honed in on the sound that would define them during Anaclasis, that album and the discs that followed were relatively straightforward bruisers, massive riffs propelled forward by a wall of blastbeats and slamming rhythm sections. On Solarflesh the band toyed with the atmospherics a bit, mixing in hammering drums in the background and a lot of sustained echo throughout the disc, invoking imagery of people surrounding tables in cloaks, wielding torches; this was something always promised in their music and delivered by a raging vocalist in long, intensely-enunciated yells, but it was fully executed on that disc.
You’ll note the strains of it almost immediately in the closing refrain of opener “Asuric Being” — a song which spells out the more militaristic songwriting of Hate from its opening snare drum rolls — and in the hammering drums and generally slower pace of “Numinosum” (which the band have a music video for, so you can experience the tidal pace with which the song thrashes about), as well as a pretty good chunk of “Svarog’s Mountain”, specifically during the uranium and wastelands segments that make up the verses of the song, which sound tailor-made for Hate’s repository of songs that they’ll use for the soundtrack to the end of the world.
Vocalist/Guitarist Adam also has a lot of fun reminding us that the word “firmament” is fantastic to yell in this style of death metal. Actually, just about any word in the three- to four-syllable range works, since he also has a pretty good delivery on the phrase “Luminous glare” during the aforementioned massive track “Numinosum”.
When Hate do descend into familiar bludgeoning territory with songs like “Indestructible Pillar”, “Fidelis ad Mortem”, and “Sea Of Rubble”, you are reminded why this band are so good at what they do. All three songs have the sound that Tremendum is built upon, those being the bigger and faster tracks. “Indestructible Pillar” becomes a figurative pillar of Tremendum as a whole. Yes, this is familiar stomping ground for Hate, but its the ground upon which Hate made their name, so there is almost inevitably going to be something to enjoy there. “Indestructible Pillar” is monstrously fast, one of a handful of songs on Tremendum that leave no breathing room.
“Fidelis ad Mortem” is built around its title, each word gaining its own emphasis like a punch to the chest, and it’s one of the drummer-heavy tracks on an album built on constant hellfire screeching from its guitars. “Sea Of Rubble” is picture-perfect as a descriptor of the disc because it is one of the larger songs, one that is perfectly fine as it transitions from its heavy and martial opening into the breakneck speed that is Hate’s chosen tempo. The song is describing a perpetual sea of destruction but it’s not too hard to make the logic jump that the band are also describing their listeners as a whole by the time they reach that song on the disc.
If one thing is common amongst Hate releases, it’s that you certainly get a lot of music from them, and when you spend an album’s length of time weathering the flames of the apocalypse, it can start to feel a little overwhelming. To keep that from becoming mundane is a dance that Hate have had to perform for some time now, and Tremendum does a pretty good job keeping its neckbreaking pace interesting throughout.
Completely disconnected from everything else, though, I do have to say I have a personal fondness for the song “Ghostforce”, which is just four minutes of relentless battering from beginning to end. It’s not the most dynamic track on Tremendum but the amount of energy that song pumps out is undeniable. Plus, it’s called “Ghostforce”. The feeling from that song is a bit like the one obtained from songs such as “Five-Pointed Star” from SepticFlesh’s The Great Mass or “Mitra” from Fleshgod Apocalypse’s King. For all the bombast, ritual, layers, and dynamic songwriting in the world, you need the occasional song that is almost one note-perfection. Like the songwriting process just boiled down to, “What if we just went, really, really fast for four minutes?”. Sometimes, subtlety catches a bullet in the brain pan.
Tremendum feels like a Hate album put through an incinerator, all of the fat boiled away and leaving behind its barest form. It is a focused and, yes, familiarly furious album from the band — one that veers away from the leviathan-like tendencies of their last disc and becomes a gigantic being of flames and destruction. The band spend nine songs scorching the Earth and leaving nothing behind in their wake except a molten ball of rock.
Hate are reliably precise, and if you’re looking for a piston-fired branch of death metal, Hate continue to be one of the finer purveyors of that genre as a whole. They move entirely on a throne of corpses formed out of destroyed drum kits, and Tremendum adds even more to the body count. It slots in neatly alongside the other albums in Hate’s discography and continues to show that Hate are one of the most consistent bands out there. You’ll know what you’re in for from moment one on this one, and it does a great job feeding you what you want from them.
Tremendum will be released by Napalm Records on May 5.
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