The Project Hate MCMXCIX
Armageddon March Eternal
posted on 2/2006 By:
By all rights, Armageddon March Eternal should be a fucking home run of a death metal album. A grand slam, even; The Project Hate certainly have all of the resources required for a solid-gold release available to them. Here we’ve got a band that features an all-star lineup (members of Entombed, Grave, Two-Ton Predator, Evergrey, Leukemia, ad infinitum), an extremely distinctive and well-defined sound, and a production by the always-masterful Dan Swanö. There’s no good reason that we shouldn’t have a masterwork from an experienced band on our hands.
Yet we don’t. Armageddon March Eternal is a pretty solid album by an immensely promising band that’s slipping towards stagnation. Obviously, something went wrong here.
So what happened? It’s certainly got nothing to do with the album’s sound, as Swanö’s done a predictably excellent job this time around. Petter Freed’s guitars hum with that deliciously Stockholm buzz, while Jörgen Sandström and the excellent Jo Enckell trade death growls and gorgeous melodies back and forth with perfect clarity. Founding member Lord K. Philipson’s programming has become even more prevalent but is very carefully balanced with the traditional instrumentation; the most notable improvement that Armageddon March Eternal makes on its predecessors is the further integration of death metal backbone, programmed bells’n’whistles and Enckell’s soaring vox into one unified whole. Obviously The Project Hate’s failings don’t include a stale sound; it can safely be said that no other band mixes stout Swedish death metal, soaring female vox, and glasses-pushed-up-on-nose electronica in any capacity whatsoever.
And so The Project Hate are endowed with an excellent production, an extremely deep well of metal veteranship, an incredibly ambitious concept, and a list of backing vocalists that includes about 80% of all Swedish death metal frontmen ever (well, not really, but you get the idea). All that’s left is the execution, and like so many others, that’s where this bunch slips up.
Take a look back at The Project Hate’s catalogue, if you will. Take a spin through their discography and listen to a variety of tracks from each album. What’s that you say? They’re all eight to ten minute mid-paced death metal songs with lengthy electronic interludes grafted to the sepulcher-slammin’ arrangements? Well, goddamn if that doesn’t sound like an accurate description of Armageddon March Eternal as well. The Project Hate has more or less failed to notably progress since their inception as a band, and Armageddon March Eternal isn’t far removed from the admirable Hate, Dominate, Congregate, Eliminate as an album. Make no mistake, they can certainly churn out amazing riffs and hooky Mediterranean vocal lines like that’s their calling; see “We Couldn’t Be Further From the Truth,” “Godslaughtering Murder Machine,” “At the Entrance to Hell’s Unholy Fire,” and “Resurrected for Massive Torture” for evidence. Simultaneously, though, there’s only so many times you can write a ten-minute one-tempo death metal song, electronics or no, without retreading a lot of ground. I know that death metal as a genre has a pretty massive redundancy crush and that demanding originality on every release from the same band is pretty ridiculous, but when said band has as ambitious a formula as The Project Hate has, I don’t think hoping for a bit of development over four studio albums is entirely unwarranted. Maybe it’s because the band’s songwriting ingredients are so forward-thinking or because The Project Hate is a supergroup in the truest sense of the term, but either way, the utter dearth of musical development on Armageddon March Eternal is supremely disappointing. As great as the individual moments are, each overextended death march feels like a repetition of earlier material.
And so Philipson and friends have done little but uphold their own standard. Sure, the songs are pretty damn fun to listen to, and the band’s stylings are incredibly novel (particularly for a death metal band). But if you’ve got any of their back catalogue, are you sure you really want eight more marathon tracks about how much Jörgen Sandström hates Christianity? Come for Jo Enckell, come for the excellent guitar tone, come for the way-left-of-center paradigm. Just don’t come expecting anything resembling artistic progress.
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