As part of the Polish “Big Four” (Decapitated, Vader and Behemoth) I haven’t yet figured out why Hate, with seven hefty albums already under their belts, never quite seem to reach the notoriety of their counterparts, Behemoth (hazarding a guess here, but a lack of court cases maybe?). If you’re like me and far from being one of those sickening, warm, fuzzy morning people, then waking up to some 270 bpm Hate-fully good Polish blackened death metal will probably appeal to you too. Likely, you already know that Hate’s latest offering, Solarflesh is due to hit the shelves this week and that means exciting times for all. Hate’s form of darkly destructive, blackened death has strong influence by the likes of American bands Morbid Angel and Deicide and bears many stylistic similarities to the madness of Vesania, the brutality of Vader, Decap and Massachist and then there’s that confusing instant when a track kicks in I need to double-check whether I’m listening to Behemoth’s Nergal or Hate’s ATF Sinner. Seeing the list of band members from each of these bands will clue you in as to why they have such strong similarities to one another – they share, swap, chop and change their band members [Sounds like a 70s key party — Steel “Swinger” Druhm] so often I’d need a ridiculously large white board with suitable diagrammatic representation to plot the scene out effectively (with the week I’ve had, that ain’t gonna happen… deal with it).
Solarflesh opens up in all its elaborate glory with the ominous, plodding, militarian “Watchful Eye of Doom.” Strongly resembling a death march, the track includes contributions by Greek singer Androniki Skoula (Chaostar) and the unusual combination of her Hellenic influence along with the huge drum beat drive up your anticipation levels. Trigger the brutal death metal bloodshed, there’s more to follow – from “Eternal Might” right through to the last note on “Mesmerized,” Solarflesh is packed with distorted, sludgy sometimes downright plodding, catchy guitar solos (courtesy of ATF Sinner and Destroyer) and contrasting rabid blast beats (al la Hexen). As musicians these guys are tight – possibly somewhat stuck in their ways and playing it safe, but technically Hate barrage you, quite successfully, with the full and brutal force of their wrath.
Over and above “Watchful Eye of Doom,” Androniki’s Hellenic influence is tightly interwoven into the rest of the album and its at its most notable on “Festival of Slaves” “Mesmerized” and the album’s title track. This unusual chanting, Greek, folksy, surreal feel perfectly offsets ATF Sinner’s morbid, darkly cloaked visions and nightmares.
Wojtek and Slawek Wieslawski of Hertz Studio and Sound Division Studio’s Filip Halucha and Arek Malczewski (Behemoth’s sound guy as I understand it) were responsible for the mixing and mastering and sound (respectively) on the Solarflesh. I’ll be honest, while switching back and forward between the old and the new I found I had to crank Solarflesh right up to achieve the same headfuck experience I achieved with Hate’s 2010 metal monster Erebos. Pity that.
I’m hoping Solarflesh ends up being a grower. ATF Sinner’s vocal style is just as big, hostile and euphorically brutal now as back in 2010, and once cranked up full-ball, I already enjoy Solarflesh more than I did the first few times I spun it. Right now though, I don’t find the album that different to what Hate (and their Polish counterparts) have put out before and added to that the watered down sound there’s nothing driving me to pick Solarflesh over Hate’s Erebos masterpiece. What say you?