Shade of Hatred – Reflection on Ruin Review

Shade of Hatred - Reflection on RuinIn my mind, there are two strains of melodic death metal. There is the kind that focuses on beauty (like the recent Eternal Storm) and the kind that focuses on raw energy (I would argue Brymir fit in this category). Both strive to infect the masses with sing-along-worthy tunes, but they take different approaches to the goal. Shade of Hatred, a melodic death quintet from the Netherlands, aim for the latter category on their debut full-length Reflection on Ruin. We’ve had a decent year for melodic death metal so far.1 Does Shade of Hatred earn a spot on my ever-expanding wish list of albums that I will definitely, totally, for realz buy in the near future?

I wouldn’t turn it away, that’s for sure. First of all, much of Shade of Hatred‘s debut showcases double harmonic scales in some way, shape, or form, which is an automatic win for me. Those who share my particular favoritism towards this aesthetic, often performed by bands such as Aeternam, should find much to enjoy here. Additionally, I find similarities drawn between Shade of Hatred and Slaughter of the Soul-era At the Gates, as there is a distinctly thrashy edge tinting this album’s personality. This, of course, is another feather in this band’s cap and they utilize it well. Finishing off the band’s sound is a light touch of trem-picking and a plucky bass tone that elevates most of the music beyond cookie-cutter status.

Nevertheless, at times Reflection on Ruin suffers from issues with identity and momentum. The opening trio of songs proper (the album has one frivolous instrumental opener) present these shortcomings right up front. While “Martyr” is a great song to open with and establishes Shade of Hatred as a dynamic and well-conceived musical entity, the two songs that follow blemish what would otherwise be a stellar first impression. “Evangelist I” is quintessentially average, neither offending nor impressing in any meaningful way, though it is enjoyable. Third cut “Tapestries of Time” gives up most of the energy the first song injected into Reflection on Ruin by maintaining an identical pace to the second track. Luckily, the back-half of the record is far more interesting, so the issues I have with the band’s expression of their sound could possibly be the result of track organization more than anything else. Perhaps, on the sophomore effort, mixing the track listing up a bit more might keep things in high gear.

Speaking of high gear, “Phantoms of a Fractured Mind” is a massive slab of quality melodic death metal. Maybe not quite on the level of Brymir‘s “Gloria in Regum” or Aephanemer‘s “The Sovereign,” but it stands above as the top track offered here. Though similarly paced compared to much of what comes before, it feels more dynamic thanks to the addictive set of riffs and the varied kit-work that run throughout the entire four and a half minutes. This energy is maintained until the end of the record, although a second instrumental track (“The Silenced Herald”) interrupts this momentum and would have been better served being absorbed by the track following it. Closer “Enuma Elish” is another highlight, with a marching riff that sends me back to Kamelot‘s “March of Mephisto,” which is certainly no detractor. Then, at three minutes, an awesome melody reveals itself, sending goosebumps down the spine. However, the song could use trimming on the back end, as its outro wanes for about a half-minute too long.

Melodic death metal doesn’t always represent a wide array of unique bands. One band will release a magnificent example of the genre done in a new way, and then exponentially the population of copycats multiplies. Shade of Hatred manage to avoid this trap somewhat, giving me an album that caused me to question and confirm each comparison I offered. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t secure a greater sense of identity in the future, as there are plenty of parallels that most listeners will immediately recognize on Reflection on Ruin. That being said, this is a solid debut, and it qualifies Shade of Hatred as a band to watch.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 22nd, 2019

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  1. You might be underselling it. – Dr. Wvrm
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