posted on 1/2011 By:
I want to begin by doing a quick dissection of the 6.1 I’ve given to Erebos, Hate’s seventh full-length. In musicianship and production, Erebos received high marks. Hate does their interpretation of blackened death metal quite well, technically speaking, and being from Poland, it makes sense (you know, with Vader and all those other bands being from there). The drums are lightning fast and triggered so that every single tom hit rings loud; the guitars are thick and heavy with tone clear enough to hear the intricacies of the dual guitar attack; and Adam the First Sinner, though improbably named, has a solid vocal attack. But if we’re aiming for honesty here, then I have to insert ‘derivative’ somewhere in each description. Hate’s latest offering displays a high level of instrumental proficiency and is well-produced, but the band fails to write anything that distinguishes itself from the masses of similar-sounding bands; ergo, their songwriting score suffers, which in turn offsets two high marks and leaves Erebos with a 6.1.
It’s practically a mantra around here, it seems to me, but instrumental proficiency does not alone make for a good album. The instrumentation might be good, certainly, but songs can still be lifelessly written and completely forgettable. I read a review out there of Erebos that said this album sounds less like Behemoth than their previous album Morphosis, but I disagree and feel quite the opposite is the case. What I will say is that from the start Hate doesn’t deliver with the sort of intensity Behemoth has been capable of in the past, and I thought what Hate was doing prior to Erebos was more unique on most accounts. Morphosis treaded similarly down the blackened death metal corridor, but there was still something somewhat novel in the album’s melodic timbre and song construction. In his review of that album, Jeremy Morse pointed to a certain ‘melodic adventurousness’ that distinguished them from ‘similar’ bands in the Polish death metal scene (Vader specifically was mentioned, though like Jeremy, I, too, don’t quite hear the connection).
On Erebos, there isn’t much that I would call adventurous. Opening track “Genesis” features some throwaway acoustic guitar over pulsating, sci-fi sounds and what are most likely midi samples – a drab intro. As second track “Lux Aeterna” kicks in, the drums stand out front and center, especially the way the blast beats are broken up over the military march guitar progression. It got me excited for a minute, really. But then the verses come in and it starts to sound a hell of a lot like Behemoth, and it wasn’t until “Hexagony,” eight tracks in, that I found my attention momentarily grabbed again, this time by an unexpected flare up of thrash-mindedness in the guitars that made me think of Testament. And so while Erebos has its moments of inspiration, they do not come in a dosage nearly large enough to sustain a whole album. That, coupled with song lengths that generally push five minutes and the fact that just below the surface you encounter vast regions of already well-charted territory, leaves the pristine production and occasionally interesting serpentine riffs counting for little.
I enjoyed some of Hate’s back catalogue enough to get myself somewhat excited at the prospect of hearing a new release from them, hoping to discover the band had pushed themselves into some fresh new territory on Erebos in which to exploit their clear talent as instrumentalists. Alas, I was to be let down. Maybe next time, guys.
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