Hate - TremendumI typically like to treat albums as self-contained works. Music evolves with the artist; any band will tell you that a given record is a time capsule chronicling a band’s creative impulses at a given point, and that, ideally, it should not be beholden to prior albums. Yet certain works regarded as important transitional pieces may not be appreciated as such until years later. Look at how the evolutionary Elegy has attained classic status over two decades despite Amorphis probably facing outrage from their core fanbase upon its initial release. I’m not about to compare Tremendum, the tenth release from Poland’s premiere Behemoth-alike Hate, to Elegy in terms of sheer quality. However, after spending a week with it, it’s become clear that it’s a similarly transformative record that signals a future for the band far removed from their death metal roots.

Tremendum really bummed me out on initial spins. At first blush I interpreted it as a sign of a continuing decline that began with 2015’s uneven Crusade: Zero; I felt that it was riffless and utterly disengaging. Yet further listens proved to be overwhelmingly in Hate‘s favor, and I slowly realized that I had been listening to the album in the entirely wrong context because Tremendum is not a death metal album. It’s a ballsy plunge into straight-up black metal. While the band’s death metal roots can still be felt in the frequently bludgeoning drum performances, their brisk, abrasive riffs have been traded in for atmospheric tremolo lines that seem to stretch into oblivion. In fact, there is no palm muting to be found on this album whatsoever, and while doing away with any semblance of riff precision could have had dire consequences, it doesn’t feel like the baby was thrown out with the bathwater. Even through the loose, jangling chords and restrained tempos, Tremendum sounds authentically Hateful, shouldering the band’s progressive tendencies with ease despite the new aesthetic.

While this transformation into pure black is a surprisingly graceful one, Tremendum does feel somewhat debut-like in some aspects. Though Hate‘s instrumentation has undergone drastic renovations, their melodic tendencies have essentially been left unaltered, and the band isn’t exactly renowned for their killer hooks. With a lack of memorable melody, the songwriting is left to pick up the slack, and thankfully Tremendum’s pieces are engaging and dynamic. Multiple tempos and time signatures are utilized in each track to ensure the music feels like it’s constantly flowing and evolving, with tracks building toward blastbeat-heavy climaxes or gradually descending into dark, methodical codas without feeling meandering. Still, the band lacks the sort of sinister catchiness that elevates otherwise straightforward black metal acts like Dark Funeral, which is a shame; excellent hooks paired with the complexity of Tremendum’s compositions could have yielded a fantastic record.

Hate 2017

On top of reinventing their sound, Hate has worked to eliminate the irksome editing and pacing issues that have bogged down the band’s recent output. Tremendum is, at forty-five minutes, Hate‘s most concise record since 2010’s Erebos, and its quality is just as consistent without any filler. The slow building tension of “Asuric Being” and the world (and album) ending cacophony of “Walk Through Fire” respectively make for an excellent opener and closer, and as a result, the album possesses an identifiable and deliberate structure. There are certainly out and out ragers to be found (“Indestructible Pillar” chief among them), but they’re evenly spaced out among the more methodical numbers. The latter approach constitutes my favorite moments of Tremendum; tracks like “Svarog’s Mountain” are impressive works of slow-burning tension that spark with character. If only the production possessed as much personality; though the drums aren’t as sterile sounding as past Hate releases, Tremendum is still plenty loud and bass-less, and the guitar layering sounds muddy and congealed.

I have a feeling that Tremendum will be a somewhat controversial record, and I say that not to instigate controversy but rather to get people thinking about the record in the context that Hate intended. While not an excellent transitional work, it comes across as a confident stride into pure black metal, and the forward-thinking songwriting provides an engaging backdrop despite the flat production and lack of memorable hooks. Patient listeners will find in Tremendum an album with impressive legs to sustain it through several listens, and with any luck will also secure bragging rights from being in on the ground floor for a new, unique phase of Hate’s career.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: facebook.com/HATEOFFICIAL
Releases Worldwide:  May 5th, 2017

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  • Jason

    Interesting that you compared them to Behemoth, who started out as a black metal band that became death metal, and here you have Hate doing the opposite.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I noticed that, too. I even considered writing about the opposite evolution that both bands went through, but I’m sick of people talking about Behemoth in Hate reviews.

      • Drew Music

        I can definitely see why they would, I’d never listened to Hate before but I’m digging the fuck out of this Betterhemoth sound.

      • Jason

        Fair enough. I can’t say I’ve read many Hate reviews, but I can imagine that too much of that would create an association between the two bands with readers and listeners.

  • Frost15

    I feel like this album deserved somehow a higher score, good review anyway.

  • Excentric_13073

    This is probably the #1 band I want to see succeed. They always seem to produce great albums, except for one or two things. From the two tracks I’ve heard, this sounds reasonably solid, and is certainly the most interesting thing I’ve heard from them in a while.

    Could just be YouTube but the production sounds very flat and almost mono. I’ve noticed this with other albums that sound better on Bandcamp, maybe that’s the case here?

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Just how the album sounds, unfortunately. The video seems to be about the same audio quality as our promo, which was 320kbps. Maybe the Bandcamp or vinyl version sounds better.

    • Matthew

      It’s their best album in years, perhaps ever, with the possible exception of Solarflesh which I think was previously their best album.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    My love for ’03 to ’07 Hate is pretty obnoxious tbh, haven’t really enjoyed anything they’ve put out before or since. I used to dream of a Polish trinity tour featuring Hate, Azarath, and Vader, and a pub in Sydney, but it would seem that not only is that idea far-fethced to begin with, but is now entirely impossible given Hate are a bunch of Weenie Hut Juniors now. My love for black metal will never trump the fact that transitioning from death metal to black metal literally means transitioning from toned biceps and beards to Chinese bride make-up and unironically throwing the horns.

    By the way, if you throw the horns at concerts while sober, you need to stop attending Amon Amarth gigs.


    • Ferrous Beuller

      You’re my spirit animal.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I disagree with you, but I love this post.

  • If Crusade:Zero got 3.0 this is at least a solid 3.5. Great album.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      If I had written the review of Crusade:Zero I would’ve given it a shaky 2.5.

      • That’s also how I felt about that one. It’s been ages that I haven’t listened to Crusade:Zero but it was pretty weak overall, even though it had some brilliant stuff in it (Valley Of Darkness is incredible). Tremendum is a “tremendous” upgrade.

      • It was rather disappointing. Otherwise i would have considered Solarflesh their transitional work into majestic black/death territory.

  • Matthew

    I came away with a much more positive impression of the album than yourself. Wholly agree about the significance of the stylistic developments here, and that this is a major step-up from an album (Crusade: Zero) that was just a bit dull and tired. For me this is a strong 4/5. I think it’s a really fascinating album with a lot of depth and variety to it, and the sort of stylistic developments and nuances here are really interesting to see in a band that have been going for over twenty years now. Going to be writing a full review of it myself soon.

  • h_f_m

    Vocalist was reminding me of Moonspell. That’s probably my fuzzy memory working.

    • [not a Dr]

      No. It’s not just your fuzzy memory. He really sounds like Fernando Ribeiro. Some of the riffs sound like the heavier Moonspell stuff. It’s helping them sell this to me.

  • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

    Solarflesh is my favorite, but I thought Crusade:Zero was really good as well. This new album is REALLY good, and I can expect it will only get better with further listens. I like Behemoth, but I think this band is simply better.

    • Here’s Johnny

      Solarflesh was awesome, Crusade:Zero was less so but with the death of a main band member it was to be expected.

      Giving this album a listen now.

      • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

        I really like it!