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Scouring the internet leads you to find some interesting things, but The Project Hate MCMXCIX was not what I expected to find. Their album The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda is one of the most unique things that I've heard, probably even more original than Alegaeon's album Elements of the Infinite that I heard yesterday. That doesn't mean to say that it's great immediately, but it certainly makes it more interesting to listen to. It's an odd thing at first, but I find that it gets better with time. The more you listen to it, the more you can appreciate it.
The Project Hate play industrial death metal, of course the industrial elements being something that many metalheads seem to dislike. To be honest I don't have much of a problem with them most of the time, and actually with Fear of Domination that was what made them interesting to listen to. Here though the band seem to be heavily reliant on industrial elements, so it's probably not for everyone. However, it remains one of the heaviest albums that I've heard and the death metal elements aren't exactly obscure either.
I'm not a fan of the song lengths for a couple of reasons. The first is that the songs morph so many times in one song that I find it impossible to pick out which songs were good or not as they all seem to cross over and steal bits of each other. The second is that at over ten minutes per song I think you can imagine that each one drags on a bit, even if they do switch around what they're playing too many times. All of this leads to an incredibly long and overdone album, something that I'm never going to appreciate as much as something where everything is clear-cut.
The songs also stop and start an incredible amount of times, no doubt in part because they're intent on trying their hand at practically every metal genre. There are points where the riffs turn into plain old stop-start chugs which do the band no favours and serve only to slow the music down even more, and for whatever reason the music seems plagued by random sections of near-nothingness. Everything seems so unconnected, one big disjointed mess, and yet for some reason it works. Something about it just kept dragging me back to listen to Carving Out the Tongues Which Speak of Salvation enough times for me to add it to my playlist on Spotify, and soon enough half the album joined it.
I'm also not a fan of the vocals on the whole, although it's clear that they both have talent. The growls are incredibly powerful but also extremely deep, and that's where they falter for me as it sounds a bit like he's just gargling and choking. It quickly becomes too reminiscent of a bad brutal deathcore band in the vocal area, but that's where the female cleans come in. They try to fix this issue by adding something that stems from the softer side of metal, and she has a good voice with plenty of force and quite a range. Sometimes they don't fit the rest of the band's outline, but as a whole Ruby Roque's voice is possibly the best part of The Project Hate.
The band also did something right with the use of the bass. It can be heard very plainly over the top of everything else and really adds something that seems to be lacking from the music due to the boring chugging done by the guitars. Unfortunately it seems to be haunted by the same issues that the guitars have in terms of its stop-start nature, but actually it seems to be less of an issue with the bass. It also seems to be more creative for the most part, although there do seem to be random melodic spasms from the guitars every now and again (which I might add often come out of nowhere and most of the time do not fit in).
The drumming is also pretty creative, but it tends to be limited by the way that the guitars control the pace. When the pace picks up for long enough we can hear some fast blast beats and there are some creative fills featuring in the breaks in the music, but despite the creativity shown here (even though it's programmed drumming) I think it's held back by the way that the rest of the band play.
I've just criticised a lot of what's on offer here, but it's not anywhere near as bad as I'm making it out to be. The thing is that this is really an acquired taste, more-so than anything I've ever heard, even Ram-Zet. Despite my disliking of every single feature that they have to offer it does still come together extremely well and after a while even becomes likable (don't ask how that works because I myself don't know). Definitely worth a listen, especially if you're into music that's creative and original.
If you've listened to The Project Hate MCMXCIX before, you'll know what to expect. Crushing guitars, creative riffs, bass that's actually used as an instrument, synths, dark industrial/techno beats and sometimes orchestras interwoven with Swedish death metal, along with a good contrast between growls and clean singing. It's a mixed bag and a bit of an acquired taste, but the result is phenomenal.
The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda overall isn't too different from their previous work, Bleeding The New Apocalypse. It certainly feels like a sequel to that album. The only new element is clean and acoustic guitars, which are used very effectively. It's such a simple addition and adds to the atmosphere greatly. What really separates TCRA from The Project Hate's other albums is the scale of it. This is certainly their grandest work by a long shot. To quote drummer Dirk Verbeuren's comment in one of their promo videos, it's "adventurous, inspired and crushing". The songs are longer (ranging from 9 to 15 minutes) and they're much more complex. This is an album for loyal TPH fans (it was only available to those who donated towards its recording until Judas leaked it on the day of writing this review), not the beginner.
Jörgen Sandström, who has performed the harsh vocals on every TPH album (with the exception of Deadmarch), is nothing short of incredible on this album. He's always been a great vocalist, but now he sounds completely brutal. Less intelligible and focusing more on low growls than on other releases, he is nothing short of demonic. These are some of the best growls I've ever heard in a death metal album. You ever wonder what Satan sounds like? Buy this album and find out.
Ruby Roque joined TPH for their last album, Bleeding The New Apocalypse, and she's only gotten better. Her vocals are more varied now, with softer sections as opposed to the powerful delivery she mostly gave on BTNA, and she's definitely become a proper member of the band and not just "the new girl". Some fans will prefer Mia Stahl and Jonna Enckell's more angelic voices on previous releases, but Ruby complements Jörgen much better than her predecessors.
Dirk Verbeuren of Soilwork fame is the session drummer on this album and he's superb. He has the speed, accuracy and technical ability to provide the structure for the rest of the music. I will be very happy if he performs on another TPH record.
And lastly, we have the mastermind behind The Project Hate, Lord K Philipson, who handles programming, guitar and bass duties (though Tobias Gustafsson, their usual drummer, recorded the acoustic guitars). He composes the vast majority of TPH's music (Ruby wrote some of her own lyrics) and this album is a shining example of his musical craftsmanship. His guitar riffs are catchy as hell, sometimes very melodic, sometimes veering into black metal territory (like in "Welcome The Judas Agenda"), but always very heavy and have that distinctive Swedish buzzsaw tone that many love, combined with a mechanical edge that suits the industrial element of TPH (the very first riff on the album demonstrates this well). The techno sections are fantastic, even better than those found on 2003's Hate, Dominate, Congregate, Eliminate. Orchestras, particularly brass, are used tastefully to add emphasis and power to the songs. The bass sound is incredible, and certainly made my skin crawl in a good but weird way. I'm not even a bassist, and this was one of my favourite elements of the album.
Lyrically, nothing ever really changes with TPH. An album might focus on a particular theme like angels or possession, but it's always violent and anti-Christian. However, they're well-written and angry, perfectly suited for death metal. Combined with two amazing vocalists, I really cannot complain about the lyrics.
The only problem with this album, and the reason behind my deduction of 1%, is a very particular violin sample in the song, "Welcome The Judas Agenda". It's the same sample used in the YouTube series, "Regular Ordinary Swedish Mealtime", and as such, my immersion in the album was broken when I heard it. It's very pedantic, yes, and is literally my only complaint. If you've never watched ROSM, this album is flawless.
Overall, this album is, as the title says, a masterpiece. This is The Project Hate at their best yet. Will they ever top it? I'm not sure, but K is one of the most creative musicians around right now, and he's got a good team crafting these beasts with him.
Like I said, the album was only available to those who paid for it initially. It was leaked today (4/01/13), but I implore you to purchase it. It's being sold for 15 euros, a good price, and it's one of the greatest albums you will ever hear. This is art, but it's expensive art to create. You will not be disappointed with your purchase.