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Two decades later and Black Hateful Metal is still the farthest anyone has taken black metal. Not farthest up or down, not the most progressive nor primitive, but simply the purest statement of black metal's spirit. "Black metal art" is a phrase that has been used for other things, but this LP is black metal art more than it is simply an album of songs.
The first Veles LP could have been released as Graveland or Infernum and nobody would have questioned it, but Veles were as influential in establishing the Polish sound as either of those bands. Graveland continued to evolve around that iconic sound for a few more years and other Polish bands had their own interpretations, but Veles made their statement on the demo and first LP before abruptly shifting for the second LP. Black Hateful Metal has all of the markings of psychosis, a degenerating mind still trying to preach its beliefs but finding a loss for words and instead lashing out in fragmented keywords and violent actions. Some of this is because of changing musicians in the band, but Black Hateful Metal is not simply the result of personnel changes. It could have only come from the perfect storm of circumstance and uninhibited expression.
I don't enjoy reviews that analyze each instrument and song, and it is difficult to find value in any reviews these days. However, this is an LP that commands me to think, and it is one of the rare albums that forces me to consider each element that makes the record.
Wire-thin guitar creates constant patterns of tension that occasionally ring out in shining "Jesus' Tod" streaks that show how deliberate this music is. As animalistic and unconventional as it is, there is a total awareness to the playing that goes beyond accidental genius. It is a unique tone that has removed everything accessible about heavy metal guitar, but unlike the flowing static common to this style, you can hear physicality of each movement. It is limited and one-dimensional but contrarily dynamic and textural, the product of the mind as much as the hands. The only other time I have heard this guitar style or even a similar tension is in the guitarist's own band Gromowladny, but it is brought to another level for Veles.
The drums are the spiritual twin of the guitar. Lightly played and quick, they are the violent backbone of the release. Again, there is a deliberateness to the recording that speaks beyond the primitive reactive sound. Structure and chaos hold hands for a result that is never confused nor awkward, simply an intuitive melee.
The first album had the dry croaks and snarls shared by most of classic Poland, but Black Hateful Metal uses harsh open-throated screams. They are high-pitched but not shrieked, more like steam escaping through a vent. Absolute blackness of human spirit releasing the pain of Europe. This is the vocalist's band and despite the importance of drums and guitar, they are the vessel for this man's vision. In a genre where musicians strive to sound inhuman, the vocals of Black Hateful Metal are terrifyingly HUMAN. Both the most human and anti-human black metal I've heard, with the narrator sitting atop the peak. Among the greatest vocals ever recorded in the name of black metal.
In another category are the clean interludes and keys. These are the most obvious connection between the first LP and this one, but like everything on Black Hateful Metal they are warped. Possibly improvised, these interludes are not typical moments of pagan reflection, but instead like trying to look into a mirror in a dark room. Familiar but confusing and while they may offer a moment to breathe, they offer no true relief. Using a few loosely connected notes, they rely more on space and psychedelic logic to keep the atmosphere unsettled before returning to the storm of hate.
If "raw black metal" still has any meaning, this is the rawest. Where "raw black metal" often rests on distorted tape production, Black Hateful Metal is a clean recording but with no professional standards. Vocal reverb at times eclipses the rest of the recording. Background vocals emerge in a couple of rare moments with repetitive shouts, creating an even more disorienting magic. Orchestral keyboard hits cut through guitar and drums. Everything shines despite itself.
With the album being as it is, it is easy to forget that Veles have thematic messages to communicate. The content of the album is fervently pagan and NS. Where NS and pagan black metal usually try to achieve sounds of pride and triumph, Black Hateful Metal covers the unexplored spiritual core of hate itself while dancing in a tornado of symbols.
It would be another seven years before another Veles album would be released after this second LP, and that third one sounds like something the band from the first LP would have eventually made just to stay active. "Black Hateful Metal" is its own entity, a sound impossible to reproduce given the circumstances that led to its creation and the situation these men were in at the time. With all of the secrecy and mythology of 90s black metal, it is hard to know who Veles truly were as people and what surrounded this record. We know that they were a key part of the young Temple of Fullmoon crew in which the best Polish black metal bands mingled with local skinheads to promote NS beliefs and spread pagan propaganda, and that this group ran into legal and internal problems in the time leading up to Black Hateful Metal. I would imagine this factored into the release.
Veles is also one of the few pagan European bands to admit drug use in interviews. I can't recall who it was exactly or if it is representative of the whole band, but one member discussed experimenting with psychedelics. Black Hateful Metal does not sound like an experiment in psychedelics and I hate when naive people attribute "weirdness" to drugs, but given the nature of Black Hateful Metal I can't help but feel there is a certain hallucinogenic presence to the music.
A friend of mine once referred to this record as a hate crime. He is right, but this is not a "hate crime" in the legal sense it is used in America. It is not an angry, aggro "hatecore" album. It is a Black Hateful Crime against everything that forces us to compromise in this embarrassing, soft, and artificial world. It is not enough to think of Black Hateful Metal as an album title, but as an entire genre that began and ended with this release. Hail Veles.
This one took a few listens for me to get used to. Before this I had never heard of VELES, and bought it because of a Graveland connection. At first I was put off by the bizarre, seemingly sloppy sound, but after a few listens the RAW energy and HATRED expelled by the sound really started to come together for me. This record is INSANE and one of the best black metal albums of all time. It features great keyboard intros by Darken as well as strange mixes of folkish guitar parts and field recordings of forest sounds that suddenly crash into an explosive anger fueled nightmare of insanity. Pure hateful metal at its finest.
The only minor complaint is that some of the songs are very similar and begin to sound the same toward the album's end. I know they are keeping with the album theme and intensity, but some more transitions from folk to metal would have been much appreciated. Despite this one complaint, this release is one of the best I have heard in a while. If you don't agree with me, please give it another chance and I think you will begin to hear something that I am saying!
The CD I have has bonus tracks from their first demo 'the triumph of pagan beliefs' and are a nice addition to this disc, but do not transition well with the actual album. They are, however, interesting songs and we get to hear how the band has progressed.