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Complete Domination - 90%

JJM1, August 29th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Supernal Music

Since the turn of the millennium, Roman Saenko from Kharkiv, Ukraine, has proven to be one of most gifted and prolific black metal musicians out there. His work with Drudkh is widely known, influential and amongst some of the best black metal ever conceived, though he's not been afraid to step out of said genre and experiment with Dark Ages, Old Silver Key and Rattenfänger. Hate Forest (who'd later on morph into Blood of Kingu in '05) is however his oldest known band, which dates back to '95, but didn't release anything until '99 in the form of a demo tape titled, 'Scythia.' 'Purity,' the band's second full-length after numerous EPs and the debut, 'The Most Ancient Ones,' was released in '03, and although I haven't heard the bands other work, I'm not stopping short of calling this one a modern masterpiece.

Hate Forest combines demented speedy tremolo riffing, merciless drum blasting akin to Immortal's, 'Battles In The North,' brief synth flourishes and deep gravely growled vocals quite unlike any I've heard before. Perhaps one of the albums most outstanding qualities is the relentless driving force behind this beast. Some short moments of ambiance are found, but largely the listener is assaulted with what feels like nearly forty four minute's of gapless nonstop commotion. The songs are not especially different though, but quite early on a hypnotic state is achieved through the highly atmospheric and dare I say dreamy riffs, percussive brutality and guttural roars. Personally I find my feet mimicking the double bass drums as I listen and become increasingly energized and possessed as the album continues. Interestingly adding to the atmosphere there seems to be a low end synth bit, that although not always audible, is there from time to time and naturally it increases the trance-like qualities during the more repetitive portions of the album. There's even bass guitar poking through now and again.

'Purity' is quite a fascinating record, especially considering that at its core its just high-speed raw black metal. Yet, I don't find the album to be particularly dark or evil in character, no, it has a rather glistening sort of essence that you'd likely find in some sort of epic or Viking metal themed band. It also easily creates the cover image perfectly; it doesn't take long before the snow covered forest appears, looking further ahead mountains high as the eye can see, followed by the... the unknown - this is simply stunning!

As I said, this is my first venture with Hate Forest, but I look forward to getting my hands on their other records, as well as pretty much everything else Mr Saenko has associated himself with.

A Few Difficulties, But Ultimately Rewarding. - 70%

Perplexed_Sjel, March 13th, 2010

Having known of Hate Forest for many years, it is only recently that I decided to give them a chance to prove their worth with their sophomore full-length, entitled ‘Purity’. Usually, I don’t consider record titles to be all that important in regards to defining their sound. Obviously, a title, as well as artwork, are usually the first two things that jump from off the page and grab a prospective listeners attention but, as far as being an apt description of the material present on the actual record itself, the title usually doesn’t surmise the sound well enough to warrant discussion on a review. However, in the case of ‘Purity’, I feel it does. The title definitely describes the music itself very well. In fact, if I were asked to describe this record in one word, “pure” would be a perfection adjective to use. The material is primitive and cutthroat, something which I’d normally expect from Western European bands. There is, to me at least, a stigma when it comes to Eastern European bands, particularly those that consider themselves to be of the ambient persuasion in the black metal scene.

This stigma involves a type of music which feels very artsy and lacking in many traditional influences. In the case of Hate Forest, even going by the song titles like ‘Desert of Ice’, I feel there is a buried influence from the second wave legions, perhaps the early, raw French black metal bands that pioneered using an uncompromising sound full of distortion and repetition to project their mystical themes. Hate Forest, like many others before them, have opted for just this type of black metal -- repetitious, raw and powerful, a type which doesn’t allow too much chance for a sense of creativity to breed within the tightly packed atmospherics. This is where the use of the word “pure” is imperative since it gives the reader an impression that Hate Forest are amongst the few who, in the modern scene, can still conjure up feelings of nostalgia towards the first and second waves where pure black metal was dreamed up and made a startling reality, much to the disliking of a number of members of the “upstanding community” who greatly opposed this form of blasphemous music.

With Hate Forest’s ‘Purity’, one really gets a sense of penetrative power and presence in their performances. I’m not overly familiar with their others records, though I am fond of Blood of Kingu, the band which Hate Forest eventually involved into. Blood of Kingu however, are a much softer sounding band than this one. The guitars and overall distortion based sound doesn’t offer the same impact of their debut, as it does on Hate Forest’s sophomore. The atmosphere is toned down and the approach feels slightly more mature, with a lessened sense of hatred and downright loathing of modern society. Alongside fellow band Drudkh, Hate Forest offer their odes to nature in the form of leading guitars. The rest of the instrumentation takes a back seat to the guitars and tends to attempt to enhance what they’re projecting by simply playing the same material as an underlying element. Surprisingly, despite the lack of ambition in the form of a distorted and repetitive sound, the bass flows audibly beneath the guitars and does feel a tad more adventurous than the guitars, but a style like this quickly hunts down and suffocates any aspect trying to fulfill its destiny by playing in the limelight above the guitars, unintentionally taking away the focus from them.

This occurs throughout, but particularly on songs like ‘Elder Race’, a song which really drives home the feeling of pride in the soundscapes and probably in the lyrics, too, as the lyrical themes suggest Hate Forest revolve around ideals such as Aryan and Slavic mythology. There is a potential problem with the lyrics, as some people don’t like to get involved with bands of a political persuasion. Vocally, I’m not very fond of Hate Forest. The vocals do tend to vary, again, as shown on ‘Elder Race’ which features prominent death metal-esque growls (though they’re not at all perfected, sounding rather flat against the buzzing distortion and production), though some light rasps do feature from the backing vocalist. These are sparse however. I do feel the record would have benefited more from a rasping style, rather this the deathly growls which remind me of Mikko from Clandestine Blaze. The vocals are largely unimpressive amidst some truly grandiose atmospherics, particularly on songs like the intense ‘The Gates’, which features some scorching hot riffs akin to Drudkh. Potentially, Hate Forest could have had a winner in ‘Purity’, but the lacklustre drums and flat vocals mare this otherwise well displayed black metal record.

Purity In The North? - 94%

Lunar_Strain, October 17th, 2007

This album reminds me explicitly of Immortal's "Battles In The North" album, due to the production and the guitar tone, as well as some of the riffs.

The double bass and the patterns on "Domination" and "Elder Race" are prime examples, and the guitar riffs on "Domination" instantly make me recall "Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms", whilst the opening to "Elder race" makes me think of "Blashyrkh".That's not to say this band is an Immortal rip-off, though there seems to be quite an Immortal influence present.

Originally what attracted me to this band was that the members are also in Drudkh -- a band I happen to be an advent fan of. But this music is nothing like Drudkh's, though they seem to share the same conceptual and political views, though not stating them in their lyrics or music.

Political standpoints, aside, this album is solid and extremely well performed. The blast beats are fast and aggressive, whilst the guitar riffs powerhouse right along with them, and the bass is just all over the place, following the two of them along. The guitars are heavy, and fast, as is the drumming, and the overall sounds makes one think this is more a Death Metal album than Black Metal, and this is collaborated with when the vocals kick in, which are predominately low gutteral voices, rather than the aggressive yells like in Drudkh (not bad for Black Metal). The vocals, to be honest, aren't the greatest that's every come out of death-black material, and the yells that accompany them (I'm guessing these are the highs) make this sounds more death-corish than metal.

Overall, this is an extremely well done album, and highly enjoyable. Recommended~!

Aesthetical Rebirth of Black Metal - 84%

Lycaon, August 12th, 2004

One of the most well-hidden and underground acts in the black metal scene, Hate Forest are also one of the most controversial due to their "aryan" concept, which however does not fall into the category of propaganda but has to do with ancestry, nature and religion. No big words here, kids (ok, apart from that "concerning subhumans" part).

Hate Forest's 3d album blasts from the very beggining a wave of frostbitten (sic) guitars, deep death vocals combined with the classic shrieking screams, an ambient low-pitched keyboard loop that is present during the whole first song and...a not very impressive drum machine that at least provides a solid backround for the other instruments to spread. The production in general is very good, guitar-orientated so that it produces the wall-of-sound effect and emphasizing in low frequencies, which in addition with the vocals gives the band a more death metal feeling (though not as much as in "The Gates" minicd). It is obvious from the start that minimalism is the musical outlook of this band concerning black metal; you will not find technical Death metal expirimentations or neo-prog interludes but you will sense black metal in its most repetitive and pure version. Fortunately however, Hate Forest seem to know the borders between ambient-like mototony and dullness, and are eager to throw in another riff or a change in rythym when needed. If there are two albums that we can compare to the sound of this release, that would be Battles In the North and Hvis Lysset Tar Oss, the former in the structure of most of the riffs and the trademark rythmical change between blastbeat and double bass beat, as well as the acoustic standpoint of the band, and the latter in the two 10 minute opus (opi?) of the album, "the gates" and "the immortal ones". Generally, it doesn't look to me that Hate Forest with this album wanted to create something that would take black metal to new heights, more possibly to bring back a long forgotten feeling of this music; when the last riff of the nihilistic "desert of ice" fades out into oblivion and the silent monologue of the guitar outro begins, the whole world seems to freeze; and someone can almost feel the endless landscapes of the artwork come into life; purity indeed is what this music carries into you.

All in all, this album is not what I would recommend to newcomer blackmetallers, it requires a certain amount of experience to decipher the aesthetic value of the work beyond the formulative structure and the monotony that turns away so many listeners yet enchants so many others.