Review Summary: Traveling gracefully between the dark oppressive depths of hell and the triumphant soaring heights of heaven, a struggle between angels and demons is beautifully illustrated.
Believe it or not, there was once a time where contrasting harsh male vocals with clean female vocals was not clichè. There comes a point in time where these sorts of things become misused and abused, and are no longer magical and uniquely identifying. It can even become a gimmick, trite and lacking its original impact. The new millennium ushered in a whole new generation of bands following in the footsteps The Gathering
and Theatre of Tragedy
; but just because something is oft-emulated does not mean it can’t still be done skillfully and tastefully.
What makes the vocal dynamics so befitting and integral to The Project Hate’s sound is the concept and delivery. Jörgen Sandström and Jonna Enckell, in tandem with the lyrical content of the songs--which I won’t delve into--create a beautiful contrast of angels and demons. Sandström’s harsh screams and deep growls are superb, not unlike those of Edge of Sanity’s Dan Swanö, and become outright demonic when layering multiple tortured howls. On the other hand Enckell’s singing, while not a focus of the music and not remarkably full of talent like that of her peers--Simone Simmons, Tarja Turunen, and Anneke van Giersbergen to name a few--still provides a haunting and beautiful contrast as well as being a primary source of melodic hooks. The payoff here is that, in a genre where vocals typically take a back seat to the instrumentalists, there is a focus on great memorable lines from both the harsh and melodic vocals.
Fortunately, The Project Hate do not sacrifice in the instrumental department for the vocalists here in Hate, Dominate, Congregate, Eliminate
--referred henceforth as HDCE
. Lord K. Philipson is simply an unstoppable riff machine. Each song is rife with thick, chunky riffs that are as memorable and distinct as they are heavy and head-bangable. The down-tuned guitars are made even heavier by the thick and audible presence of the bass guitar--if you listen closely you can often hear its loose down-tuned strings rattle furiously against its fretboard. The drums, while as immense as the guitars and bass, are programmed by Philipson and are thus quite robotic and lacking the nuance that a real drummer would display. This may seem disappointing at first, but the issue is somewhat mitigated by the industrial elements found throughout the album. The use of keyboards, angular rhythms and occasional electronic beats contribute to a cold, metallic and mechanical atmosphere that the drums compliment.
These industrial elements, along with sparse use of strings and piano sections, are a big part of The Project Hate’s sound and serve well to break up the rather long run-times of each song. Each of HDCE
’s eight songs are between seven and thirteen minutes long, all of which could easily drag if these expertly-placed and enjoyable transitional sections weren't there to relieve the listener of the relentless riffing. That isn’t to say that some of the tracks couldn’t have used a little bit of trimming here and there, however The Project Hate do a rather splendid job of keeping things moving. Each riff or section of a song are usually not dwelt upon for too long before moving on to the next, and key sections are typically only re-visited after a song has been allowed to sufficiently develop.
A few of the songs on HDCE
will seem to drag for some listeners, and the middle of the album does sag just a bit compared to the opening pair of tracks and the final three tracks. The harsh-clean vocal dynamics shouldn’t come across as gimmicky, forced or contrived except perhaps to the most jaded of listeners. Compositionally and emotionally, the music found in HDCE
is both heavy and beautiful. Traveling gracefully between the dark oppressive depths of hell and the triumphant soaring heights of heaven, a struggle between angels and demons is beautifully illustrated. With a plethora of memorable heavy riffs and great vocal melodies, it’s a roller coaster of an album that can easily have you both head-banging and singing right along.