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With their debut release on Napalm Records, Poland's death metal machine Hate unleash 'Solarflesh' on the metal faithful early in the year. Album number eight brings more of the ferocious death metal that fans can expect from the corpse-painted death metallers with the newer shines of black metal glean influenced by modern Satyricon.
Opening with instrumental introduction 'Watchful Eye of Doom', the quartet utilise Middle Eastern percussion with a female voice to create a sinister prelude to the album before launching into typical Behemoth-style blistering death metal. The comparison to Behemoth is one that runs throughout this release and is a challenge to ignore, particularly with the excessive employment of Behemoth-sounding guitar leads, as heard on 'Alchemy of Blood' and 'Timeless Kingdom'. The blackened death metal atmosphere is made clinical in sound by production and is counterbalanced by the return of a Middle Eastern vocal and percussive influence, as evidenced on the title track and concluding number 'Mesmerized'. However, these ethnic influences avoid fleshing out the music in any particularly notable measure. Tempos lurch between blastbeat breakneck and darkly slow, with 'Endless Purity' showcasing an almost Incantation-esque doomy crawl alongside exploratory melodic guitar harmonies.
The presence of filler tracks on this full-length is quite overwhelming, including 'Eternal Might' and 'Festivals of Slaves'. Hate's newest is a far cry from the optimum release 'Anaclasis - A Haunting Gospel of Malice and Hatred' from 2005 with its particularly fresh take on being rhythmically focused but although it avoids bringing much new to the table, it does present an interesting listen or two.
Originally written for soundshock.com
As one of the leading names in the Polish scene, Hate has a guaranteed difficulty coping with the fans of now-legendary Behemoth trigger-happy to dismiss any band that bears even the most minuscule of resemblance to their preferred artist. And while no doubt about it, Behemoth is a mammoth quartet that are very skilled at what they do, and it seems that with this release Hate has reinvented the genres and has engineered a fine example of not just a blazingly fast, but also an appropriately atmospheric piece of blackened death metal. That is not to say there is no room to further improve, but the foundations laid here are solid and will most certainly support the band's career for many years to come.
The album is comprised of 12 tracks including 3 bonus ones which amounts to a decent length of material just over an hour. After a very mystical and arcane intro of female chanting, we get a less idiosyncratic cannonade of extreme metal with both high-tempo blast beats and a whirlwind of riffs that are caustic and spiteful enough to prepare the listener for even more vitriol that is about to unfold, but not before a nice intro in "Alchemy of Blood" with its tribal drum-fills and a panache for solos, thus making the sound more diverse and less reliant on a single modus operandi. And while the instrumentals and vocals are both extremely well-handled and executed with passion and zest, they are only original to the point of being unafraid to embrace several existing and dominating approaches to extreme metal, like the more dissonant aspect of Deathspell Omega, Blut aus Nord, and Reverence (those French love their avant-garde), or the more recent Swedish old school revival (Nominon, Diabolical, Entrails...).
The lyrics apparently follow the already-seen and not-so-unique fascination with cosmic chaos and omni-incineration, but are not an impediment to general impact as they are for the most part unintelligible and seemingly more carved out of personal observations rather than clownish rephrasing of earlier Darkthrone material, or a drive to show off how well-versed one is in occult literature, which is commendable. The vocals are more akin to death metal, apart from the few aforementioned female passages, namely the intro track and "Mesmerized", that are refreshing and resonating enough to be considered part of the music and not just experiments within the stylistic limitations of the genre.
Overall, with precise and spot-on musicianship, great energy demonstrated in both vocal sectors, and by utilizing several twists and turns of the avant-garde, they succeed at sculpting a fine and admirable effort in their genre with both astounding vigor and some entropic, more contemplative pieces of almost industrial-like ambiance, Oriental embellishments (oud solo in the title track), all gilded with crystal-clear, crisp production and a premise more of the same quality to follow. 8.5/10
I've just stumbled upon this album for mere casuality and the immediate thing I heard from people who knew the band when I asked for more information was 'they are a Behemoth clone', which I think it's not a fair tag at all. 'Solarflesh: A Gospel of Radiant Divinity' is not only something far superior to what Behemoth has done Demigod onwards, but also something way more varied and mature to my ears.
In general terms, the album displays a way of blackened death metal more unique than it initally appears. The most notorious thing is the aim for atmosphere more than sheer brutality (despite Solarflesh providing plenty of brutal and hyperspeed blasting). Songs like 'Eternal Might' shows a more dissonant and blackened riffing compared to the technical drumming underneath which keeps playing mostly in mid tempo but adding tons of fills, impossibly fast double bass patterns and a great sense of the use of cymbals.
One of the things I think Behemoth copied from this guys is the fact Hate usually use slow riffs counterpointed by the busy drums. The tremolo riffing is way less prevalent than the dissonant open chords to be found, as well as different arpeggios combined with slow palm-muted chords. The leads are usually in the atmospheric side like Nile does too and the faster soloing is carefully played to complement the overall feeling and brutality/atmosphere - depending of the song and the moment.
Most of songs also display very complex structures where there's no distinguishable chorus. They aren't afraid of repeating some chord progressions with little variation in some songs, since the drums carry the whole weight of both providing the rythmic foundation and the versatility; the guitars are too busy forcing themselves to create atmosphere to get too technical all the time, like on 'Sadness will Last Forever' and especially 'Endless Purity'. Still, there's a lot of rich riffing and complex chord/tremolo constructions to hear this album for the riffs alone. Sometimes, some female vocals are added to enchance the feel of a lost civilization being evoked throught the incantations the band is chanting, like on 'Festival ov Slaves' and 'Mesmerized'.
The vocals are a bit of your standard 'polish' growler: a mix of Piotr and Nergal that doesn't hurt the wholeness in a single bit. The growls are delivered with conviction and enough power to match the brutality and darkness of the music presented. The bass is also pretty audible and delivers some nice basslines like in 'Endless Purity'.
The copy I've got features 3 bonus tracks that could go well with the rest of the album but also at the same time bring new things to the table. 'Hatehammer' has a bit of an industrial feeling but also it's a very atmospheric track; Venom has a strange folkish vibe and serves more as an interlude or intro and 'Fall ov All Icons' that close the album in this way perfectly.
Overall, this a very well crafted execution of death metal with the right pitch black atmosphere, well played, produced and especially written; Hate knows how to create an album with a clear concept translated perfectly into the lyrics and the music.
This is actually my very first Hate album I’m listening to its entirely. I’ve heard a few songs and from them before and was very excited to review what is to be Hate’s eighth full-length, “Solarflesh: A Gospel of Radiant Divinity". Yes, I’ve heard how this is just a Behemoth clone but to yield to such a abhorrent label is undermining this mighty act from Poland. In fact, Hate had its signature sound way before Behemoth came along with the same merit. Let’s just agree that Behemoth is Behemoth and Hate is Hate. Those who think they sound identical are apparently tone-deaf.
Well I don’t know how to begin so I’ll just start with “Eternal Might”. My main focus in these extreme acts is to concentrate on the drums as the foundation since it’s very intense and usually everything flows under its right wing. I found this to be true with this album. Hexen, the drummer (but not the awesome thrash metal band of the same name), does indeed start on the right foot by pounding the living heck out of his drum set. On this song particularly I thought it was well-coordinated but came across as a bit sloppy at times. “Alchemy of Blood” is where Hexen sets aside his endurance and thrives a bit on the creative and catchy side of things. Prior to this, the song kicks in with a weird sample. Imagine finding a portal opaquely hidden behind a brick wall. You break it down because your curiosity is strong. There you find an unstable tear in the universe which before any reaction can kick in, you are sucked up into the realms of an unexplained plane of dimension.
On “Timeless Kingdom”, I was a bit disappointed; mundane contributions in Hexen’s part. The guitar rhythm towards the end sounded very familiar to me but I could not put my finger on it. Nonetheless, it sounded completely out of place with the rest of the music and Hexen started to sound a bit dull around these parts. Talk about mood swings, “Festival of Slaves” was a fun song to listen to. Ironically it proposes “fun” by having “festival” in its name. Who was the party animal you ask? Well if you’ve been following my review so far you will know that I’m talking about the one and only, Hexen. I actually started to imitate his pattern on my imaginary drum set. I probably had more cymbals than him since mine is imaginary; easy to learn but creative.
“Sadness Will Last Forever” was by far the dullest song of the lot and unfortunately the longest. Overall it was stale but Hexen’s drum pattern was really nice toward the beginning and close to the end repeated it. I began to take the effect of the title, I was looking forward to its inevitable end. Going along with this emotional roller coaster, “Solarflesh” stimulated the neurons inside my head. I guess if you are going to name your album after a song it might as well be one where everyone is at their optimal form. It begins with an acoustic contraption that is reminiscent of Egyptian folklore. It's a bit primitive and unstable but it leads the song with the foreshadowing of something big coming. While remaining Hate, these guys explore a bit in the ruins of technical prowess. Opening up sarcophagi similar to Nile but it is short-lived.
Again the tendency of negative contrast shows itself on “Endless Purity”. My once stimulated neurons were starting to dwindle in the archaic world of nothingness. However, before a continued onset of the suicide program took effect, something hit me like a quick passing moving object that just flashes by without any warning. These guys were showing what appeared to be Doom sounding riffs. My interests were piqued again and the music began to be salient once again. “Mesmerized” closes the curtain on this album and to my sanity it leaves with a good impression, a satisfied feeling but you felt like you were cheated a few bucks. The wretch from “Watchful Eye of Doom” appears again on this track.
This was a decent album not one of the best but it keeps one entertained. Not sure what to think of Hate after this album. It leaves you expecting more elaboration. My hunger wasn't fulfilled. There’s sloppy areas and fun areas. It started with intense energies but mellowed out with a sedated feeling.
Originally written for http://www.metal-temple.com/
Despite being around for as long as Behemoth and even playing the death metal style that Poland is now known for before Behemoth turned to death metal, it is quite weird that Hate never quite got as much recognition as the aforementioned and bands like Vader did when it came to Polish death metal. But this did little to deter the band from continuing to unleash their brand of death metal upon the masses, and this year sees the band releasing their 8th full length effort, Solarflesh.
The Polish stylistics that Behemoth helped to popularise is easily heard on Solarflesh, from the blackened, yet crushing style of riffing that is unleashed by ATF Sinner and Destroyer, down to the relentless and tireless blasting of drummer Hexen. Just listen to the opening moments of songs like Eternal Might and Alchemy of Blood, where the entire sound of the band can easily fit a Behemoth record, especially in the way the pinch harmonics are incorporated into their music. ATF Sinner’s vocals are even rather similar to Nergal’s and this certainly reinforces that Behemoth comparison. Hexen’s drumming is one of the key attractions on the album, and the energy that he exudes is not unlike fellow Polish drummers such as Inferno and Stormblast.
Yet on Hate‘s eighth studio effort the band actually incorporates quite a wide array of influences and elements into their music, allowing them to break free from the ironic tag of Behemoth copycats. To be really honest, Behemoth wasn’t really all that appealing after my initial forays into extreme metal, sounding too one-directional and lacking true dynamics in their songwriting, often boring me after the initial impact on their releases. But apart from the brutality in the music, on Solarflesh Hate has incorporated elements from genres like ambient and folk into their songwriting like on the intro of Festival of Slaves to create a more interesting and epic sound than their other Polish counterparts. The leads guitars can also get rather melodic, like on Alchemy of Blood.
And it is precisely things like that that help to make Hate a more enjoyable band to listen to compared to Behemoth, especially with the latter’s recent releases that all tend to sound all too similar to each other. Fans of Polish death metal and of the Hertz Studio sound will certainly not be disappointed by this release.
Fucking hell but reviews of this band have the name Behemoth in them as much as the name Hate. However, "Behemoth worship" does not do this justice quite so fully as the casual listener might think. Now Hate were playing death metal before Behemoth ever did, essentially beating them to the brutal death metal style the model-dating media darlings would use to dominate racks of metal magazines worldwide. That should be a known fact, but given the most recent records by Hate will usually be recommended as being "like Behemoth" they might come across as a copycat. The difficulty in treating these chaps fairly lies in those recent records - the Inferno-style drumming, blackened guitars and bellowing, layered vocals that even sound like Nergal are all a recent acquisition. Hate find themselves in the curious position of doing this shit both before and after Behemoth, if you comprehend me. Still sounds good though. Read up, listen and then cast your own aspersions.
These Polish stalwarts do have, on most accounts, a devil of an album here, enough riffs and blasts to inspire awe and fear in the Decibel-reading beginner and I'd venture plenty of meat for the less fussy veterans to get their much-weathered molars into as well. A small issue is the sound, which is a bit less forceful than it was on a record like the punishing Awakening the Liar (when the vocals were Glen Benton worship rather than Nergal worship). The tight drumming, slicing guitars and general cacophony of precision would be better served by a heavier, clearer mix.
With the volume turned up however, you're in for an hour (if you have the version with the bonus tracks which makes for plenty of bang for yer buck) of catchy and technically accomplished blackened death metal. As mentioned, diverse drummer Hexen (who has abused a number of Polish extreme metal bands) is taking a lot of cues from Inferno's style of blasting, but at other tempos matching any riff he's thrown with some pleasantly heavy and complex patterns and beats. For lovers of brutal and technical drumming the record is probably worth investigating merely for this. Destroyer and ATF Sinner meanwhile unleash volleys of intricate riffing patterns, growling rhythms and keening leads, providing plenty of bloodied-fingers competency in their speed and versatility.
Highlights make themselves known readily, and repeat listens may even reveal enough individuality to somewhat appease the cynic. The intro 'Watchful Eye ov Doom' (yes, they're doing the "ov" thing. And yes, it probably counts against them) is very neat, with its groaning chords, as is the atmospheric thump that embellishes the mid-section 'Endless Purity'. These are moments of character and excellence that I can listen to over and over. The menacing, slightly jangling intro to 'Eternal Might' kicks things off decently. An inspiring molten flow of jagged tremolo-picking and ferocious blasting follows. A song like 'Festival ov (gah!!) Slaves' is all tension and arrogant riffs - great stuff. 'Sadness Will Last Forever' truly summons a morose feeling amongst its martial stride, while the exotic instrumentation plucked in the title track is a welcome flash of authenticity. Elsewhere dem Grecian feels are lifted from the annals of Rotting Christ, boasted most awesomely in the closer 'Mesmerized', a well-paced exercise in dire metallic ambiance aided by some cool female chants; here the band successfully do their own thing and no-one else's.
In general the Poles have spared no effort in contextualising their wrath with washes of mysticism; credit where credit's due. Funnily enough, the three bonus tracks have some of the most inventive moments on here ('Hatehammer' would have been a killer opener), some grinding industrial parts and warped, cinematic auras, and if you feel you want this then I urge you to get that version.
Hate have been around a good long while and deserve a chance just for their tenacity. Some will tell you they are the original Behemoth, others will tell you they copy Behemoth - both are basically wrong, they've tried to sound like Deicide before this and ultimately have never really had their own "Hate style" and stuck to it. The thing is, there are reams of bands out there doing a Suffocation sound or an Entombed sound and getting props for it all the same, so there's no reason why these guys shouldn't be accorded the same recognition for doing a particular thing well, and splashing a bit of their own personality onto it too. What they sometimes lack in identity however they certainly make up for in capability and technical chops, and much like previous records this makes for a highly enjoyable listen. In terms of abilities they are undeniable. They're no Lost Soul or Trauma (these are the Polish death metal bands you should be going to first), but I can see myself listening to Solarflesh a bit in the future. I'd definitely be all over a concert if they came to town.