Review Summary: Slaves shall serve, slaves shall F*CKING SER...wait what?
Hate is a powerful feeling, a feeling of great disdain for someone, something or everything. We as humans may experience hate throughout our lives but only a few of us will let it consume our very being. Many years ago, Poland gave birth to a band which encompasses this feeling, they embody its definition; their name is Hate. Hate is a Blackened Death metal band that are relentless in their musical approach, spewing pure hatred towards everything and everyone; their very loathing is represented in their chaotic, bleak music. Solarflesh, is their latest offering and it quite simply re-affirms that they're the musical embodiment of the word they represent. Throughout their career they’ve been compared to Behemoth (a more well-known Blackened Death metal juggernaut from Poland). Whether the comparisons were stylistically (image) or musically: To the most intricate of details such as time signatures/rhythms; even the vocals. A copycat is all they’ve been known as, some could say tarnished with. However, with Solarflesh, Hate prove that they have their own agenda and their identity flourishes on this colossal journey.
Solarflesh is hate in its purest musical form, gloomy, desolate riffing accompanied by eerie melodies with malevolent vocals spitting melancholy left, right and centre. Solarflesh is a multi-layered creation, whether it's the combination of the instruments, the sampling scattered throughout or the moments of sheer doom. Each song carries its weight amongst the sea of misery, thanks to catchy choruses and venomous chants that litter the lyrical content; hearing ‘SUICIDE, SUICIDE’ being howled has never sounded so good. Vocally, ATF Sinner stays within his standard range, a guttural, harsh growl which compliments the music well. There isn’t any need for blistering highs or an over-abundance of effects such as layering (which works for some bands) to enhance the power or feeling of his voice. During some songs, Sinner drags his vocal chords through hell and high water, in long drawn out passages, gurgling upon words. This is undoubtedly his best vocal performance; it articulates the feeling of Solarflesh extremely well. Instrumentally, it’s a chaotic, dark, ‘anthemic’ ride. The guitar tone is thick and at times, sluggish, delivering whirring riffs and drone-stylised rhythms. There are splashes of groove and strong classic riffing, which provides the backbone for their music. They never really abandon their genre's formula but their sound never feels restricted, they're willing to take risks. What the band demonstrates is that they can be technical or simplistic without being stale, nor being confined to how it ‘should’ sound. The drumming is also a high point, firing on all cylinders. From blast-beats to marching to war rhythms; there is never any over-hyperactivity for the sake of it. Drum-wise, this album is concise and to the point. Moreover there is some great timing and cymbal work displayed on the longer tracks. Sampling is sporadically placed in Solarflesh, from eerie female vocals, choir chanting to static ambiance, which builds upon the atmosphere.
On the other-hand, Solarflesh isn’t without flaws; near the end of the album the songs become slightly similar and at times the longer tracks can be overly-convoluted. Also, this album is a bleak listen, make no mistake about that. It’s an album where you have to be in the mood or frame of mind to really benefit from what it offers. Furthermore, some may see this as ‘paint-by-numbers’ Blackened Death, which is true to a degree as Hate don’t reinvent the wheel at any moment on this record, but they do what they do well and that’s all a listener could ask for.
Solarflesh shows that Hate is more than a ‘supposed’ Behemoth clone, it solidifies them as a worthy addition to the Death metal community; they’re a force to be reckoned with. Hate unleashes pure emotion and passion on their eighth album, which is bursting at the seams with hatred and toxicity. Solarflesh sits upon a throne of skulls and bones, coated in rotting flesh, a spectacle to all those who ever doubted Hate’s identity and ability as musicians.