In the early days Hate was a death metal band. A pretty solid one, sort of in the same vein as Vader, pretty blasty and not super melodic. As they developed with time, they actually got arguably better and started putting out some pretty good stuff, groovy, a little bit more black metal influenced but still solid death metal. This development pretty much peaked in 2005 with Anaclasis – A Haunting Gospel of Malice and Hatred, which is widely considered their best record. While 2009’s Morphosis was a pretty good follow-up it didn’t live up to Anaclasis for many fans. However, Erebos offers some new life for the band, but also some unfortunate and appropriate comparisons to Poland’s biggest heavy metal phenomenon.
Erebos is at its root a semi-brutal death metal record in a recognizably Polish style. With vocals similar Vader, Behemoth and Trauma, that is death metal growls that are bordering on mid-ranged screams more than brutal grunts, and song-writing that places them largely in the death metal arena, they don’t offer up a lot of stuff you haven’t heard before. Pretty much every track is 5 minutes long, riffy as hell, thick and laden with time and feel changes and plenty of groove. But while Vader is a bit more in the old school thrash mode when it comes to guitar solos, Hate is a lot more melodic. The solos are well-written and there is a melodic sensibility that is subtle, but well done and that works with the style of riffing and what little soundscapes and backing synths are on here.
However, one cannot escape the comparison to Behemoth. I know that Hate started as a death metal band and basically evolved from their original sound to where they are nowâ€”a sound that is pretty much spitting image of Behemoth, and the other guys started as a black metal band and abandoned it, but one can’t help but feel like they’re competing animals who grew into the same niche. One of them is going to be successful in that niche, and the other isn’t. Guess which one is getting the shaft here. I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t rhyme with Shlehemoth. Instead, I listen to Erebos and while the songs are good, I just can’t get over how the intro to “Lux Aeterna” sounds like something that easily could have come from Demigod. Or that the drums and guitar tone are pretty much spitting image. And then there’s the skirts and corpse paint. People might get the impression that this death metal band is changing their image so as to keep up with the Nergals.
All of that said, it doesn’t stop this record from having some really good tracks on it. “Lux Aeterna” may sound like a track that the competition could have written, but it would’ve been a great one and same can be said for the title track “Erebos.” “Hexagony” has fantastic riffs and recalls the glory of Anaclasis a bit, and the riffs and changes in that record are smart, cool and they keep you on your toes. The final track on the record “Luminous Horizon” is another one chalk full of powerful riffs and impressive drumming, though triggered and replaced so, take that as you will. Still, these guys aren’t slouches and Erebos shows that off.
Unfortunately, though, these guys will still get the shit end of the comparison sword and I’m going to do it, too. This record is good, but it’s familiar. There is nothing here that you’re going to get that you don’t already get from your Behemoth records. But there are a lot of good tracks and the band is talented, so maybe next time around they can take a step away from the clothing rack and focus more on their own legacy.