Hate – Solarflesh: A Gospel Of Radiant Divinity
Despite twenty-three years and seven albums under their belt (plus 1999′s Victims EP), Warsaw’s Hate has often struggled to emerge from the shadow of Poland’s death metal leviathans, Behemoth and Vader. With their more recent work, particularly 2005′s Anaclasis: A Haunting Gospel Of Malice & Hatred and beyond, Hate has shifted away from their cold metallic black roots to more of a pure death metal approach. Morphosis and Erebos can be seen as works in progress toward that goal, with the band’s latest album, Solarflesh: A Gospel Of Radiant Divinity, being the culmination where everything starts to lock into place.
“Watchful Eye of Doom” immediately enthralls you in a gripping atmosphere, both tribal and sinister. Ominous female vocals and synths flow perfectly into a mix of simple, repetitive percussion and a delightfully evil sounding riff that slowly ratchet up the tension. “Eternal Might” and “Alchemy ov Blood” bring pretty much what you would expect from Polish blackened death – plenty of machine gun double bass drumming, pinched harmonics, and rapid fire guitars that occasionally pause for minor chord based lumbering passages. The musicianship on both tracks is first rate with impressive soloing, but aside from a brief, somewhat Gojira-like hammer-on/pull-off riff at the beginning and near the end of “Alchemy ov Blood,” there’s not quite enough of Hate’s own identity that really breaks through.
Fortunately, “Timeless Kingdom” gets the ship back on course. The furious riffs and pounding drums pummel you with demonic force, and the mix of melodic riffs and enigmatic noise that make up the song’s mid-section is strangely compelling. The song closes with a surprisingly mournful solo that seems pulled from the world of melodic death doom, but Hate manages to make it fit perfectly. “Festival ov Slaves” opens with folk inspired drums and vocal chants before shifting to an all out assault of maniacal riffs and visceral rasps from vocalist ATF Sinner. “Sadness Will Last Forever” is much longer and darker in tone than the preceding tracks, with the gloomy, slowly building intro providing a brief respite before the song transitions to a trudging, blackhearted structure reminiscent of Bloodbath.
The album’s title track is also its strongest. Eastern style acoustic guitar transitions into an onslaught of battering drums and surprisingly melodic riffs that tear your head off. Hate, if you are listening, please give us more of this! “Endless Purity” is another highlight, returning to the mid-pace of “Sadness Will Last Forever” with added doom and groove elements that work beautifully. Masterfully executed breakdowns and a haunting solo close out the song in style. Though it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the previous two tracks, the mix of hard charging guitars and ghostly female vocals on “Mesmerized” is still captivating.
Solarflesh was recorded at Sound Division Studio in Warsaw, with the help of Filip “Heinrich” Halucha and Arek “Malta” Malczewski, who also does production work for Behemoth. The extreme thinness and total lack of low-end weight that plagued some of Hate’s earlier albums is fortunately lessened here, though not entirely absent. There’s still not much presence to Mortifier’s bass or weight to the riffs, but the instruments are well balanced and at least the kick drum and cymbals manage to make it through the typical DR6 master.
After a somewhat inauspicious start, Solarflesh quickly finds its groove and delivers an absolutely crushing slab of blackened death. Those that were perhaps disappointed with Morphosis and Erebos will likely be satiated with this release, and fans of Polish death or death metal in general should also give this CD a spin. Definitely check this one out, it’s worth it.