I mentioned in my review of Crystal Viper’s Queen of the Witches record that to many, Polish metal is currently spearheaded by a trio of extreme metal bands: critically acclaimed blackened death metal masters Behemoth, long running death thrash enthusiasts Vader, and death gone groove Decapitated, whose Winds of Creation remains one of the most staggering debuts in extreme metal history. Warsaw’s Hate curiously sit a level below their fellow Poles, steadily streaming out a nine album strong catalogue since their debut in 1996. Tremendum is album number ten, and sees the group continue to deliver unrelenting death metal to the masses.
“Asuric Being” opens in suitably ceremonial fashion, the marching beat a signal of the impending inferno of the blazing blackened death metal onslaught to come. It’s a typically bruising extreme metal opener, with a good use of melody, but the riffs lack imagination; the song running on fumes as the pace slows in the song’s final stretch. It’s a similar story for much of the first half of the album, with all the songs falling into a non too subtle formula of blasting drums, menacing growls and an overbearing wall of sound. There’s the odd moment of inspiration, such as the immense riff in “Numinosum” just after the 4 minute mark, but it’s not until fifth track “Fidelis Ad Mortem” that you feel that Hate start to become a little more adventurous with their song writing, if only for the fact that there’s a bit more to the dynamics of the track. More crucially though, it signals a turning point in the album, as from here on out the quality of the music is noticeably superior what came before.
Whilst “Into Burning Gehenna” is admittedly another track that falls into the oppressive, fiery blackened death mold, it succeeds where the earlier songs failed, concocting an atmosphere that is equally crushing and ominous. “Sea of Rubble” is similar in tone, with a more straightforward drum beat and a stronger black metal influence. Siren like guitar wails back the bouncing rhythms, with the change of pace and focus on mood rather than overwhelming sonic battery a welcome change. “Ghostforce” is also imbued with black metal melodicism, with layers of wonderful harmonies sweeping over hooky riffs, with “Walk Through Fire” closing in suitably abrasive fashion; it’s main riff akin to the world crumbling into ruins.
I mused in the opening paragraph as to why Hate may not get the attention their contemporaries do. The reality is they are considered a second tier Polish death metal band because, in essence, that is what they are. They cannot come close to the infernal majesty and grandeur of Behemoth, and lack the compositional skills that add so much scope and little nuances to their music. Likewise, they cannot match the irrepressible ferocity of Vader or the compelling grooves of any era of Decapitated. They deliver solid, but largely unspectacular death metal, but sometimes that’s all that’s needed. Tremendum is no different in that regard, and is backed by a clear, concise mix and good performances from all involved. It’s not an album to move them up the ladder, but it does solidify their position as a dependable death metal institute from a country that has done a great deal for the extreme metal scene in the past two decades.
Highlights: “Into Burning Gehenna”, “Ghostforce”
Tremendum is available worldwide now, through Napalm Records.