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00's rebirth - 85%

U472439, September 20th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Moonfog Productions

Hate Them was Darkthrone's return from the murky late-90s/early 00s, and albums like Ravishing Grimness and Plaguewielder. More to the point, it was Fenriz's return from a prolonged bout of depression and delving into psychedelics (not to mention handing over most of Darkthrone's songwriting duties to Nocturno Culto), and anyone sufficiently into Darkthrone's (now) back catalog will notice a brighter, more aggressive touch to this record compared with its predecessors.

It's not that Hate Them is a masterpiece. As with most Darkthrone records after their classic Black Metal trilogy of the early 90s, its spiritual roots are in a record like 1995's Panzerfaust, mixing BM, punkish, booze-y Motorhead rock and roll, and Celtic Frost/Hellhammer-styled jams into a kind of all-purpose Darkthrone headbang-stew. BM purists will likely think the record is a letdown, and in terms of how it relates to, say, Under A Funeral Moon or Transylvanian Hunger, it is. It's NOT a *scary* record, but rather an aggressive, angry, no-frills one. It sounds amazing -- clear, heavy, cutting guitar sound and great vocals. And, except for Sardonic Wrath (which came immediately after it), Hate Them doesn't really sound like much else in the band's catalog. In songwriting terms, it's more Black Metal-styled than most of what they did afterwards, though nowhere near as enigmatic/lo-fi/atmospheric as their classic trilogy.

My favorite tracks are "Fucked Up And Ready to Die" (check the awesome tritone riff accompanied by 12/8 blastbeat), "Divided We Stand" (NWOBHM tempo, thrash-y riffing and VERY un-BM power chords in the break) and the opener "Rust". Once you get past its lengthy intro, you get a minor-key riff-sludge and slow, ultra-simple drumming. Normally, that's not necessarily what you want from Darkthrone, but to lead off what is essentially their 00s "rebirth" record, it's a great warning that this band follows its own path, no matter the cost. (Which, in all honesty, doesn't seem to be much except the occasional BM "purist" calling them out on a messageboard somewhere.)

I think Hate Them is about equal in quality to its follow-up Sardonic Wrath, but not as good as something like Panzerfaust. It's a "mature" Darkthrone record, from arguably their last era that could be described as "black metal". However, it's also the first one that really shows the band breaking beyond their (well-earned) reputation as BM pioneers.