The Project Hate MCMXCIX
Bleeding The New Apocalypse (Cum Victriciis In Manibus Armis)
posted on 3/2011 By:
I’ve been an avid fan of The Project Hate for most of their prolific 12-year, 8-album career now, and I keep in somewhat regular contact with guitarist Lord K. I’ve reviewed over half of the band's albums at various media outlets, as well as conducted numerous interviews. To be honest, I could have written this review in my sleep and churned out some lazy “business as usual for Lord K and co”. But that would be selling the readers, the band and the band's rather excitable, devout following short.
First off, I’m glad The Project Hate has landed on a reliable, widely distributed label, making Bleeding The New Apocalypse much easier to obtain than previous releases, for which I had to sell one of my children on the Thai black market (The Lustrate Process, In Hora Mortis Nostræ). And the label change, as with any of their albums, hasn’t really affected the band or their sound, so I’ll tell you right from the start, this is a The Project Hate album through and through. If you enjoy the band's output, there’s no reason not to pick up their latest offering. It's got all of the band’s trademark elements in spades: long songs full of chunky, epic industrial death metal with ethereal keyboards and programming, bursts of lurching techno beats and female vocals.
However, while all those elements are delivered with the band's typical anti-Christian gusto and skill, there’s one part of the band’s sound that will divide longtime fans: new female vocalist Ruby Roque. Though she admittedly has big shoes to fill in those of Mia Stahl and longtime member Jo Enkell, fans will either love her or loathe her as her approach is slightly different from that of her predecessors. Where Stahl and Enkel both had a sultry, evocative voice, Roque has a much more urgent, forceful and less enigmatic voice. With a higher register and almost pop/rock base, her tone, while still fitting in with The Project Hate’s overall sound, to me is enthralling and mesmerizing and, to be honest, a bit grating at times. But she was hand-picked by Lord K and company, so I’ll have to trust their judgment, and like I said, her result will be divisive. For me personally, it’s a step back. Luckily, the rest of the band (including Lord K’s Torture Division cohorts Jorgen Sandstrom and Tobias Gustafsson and new bassist Anders Bertilsson of Coldworker) has not changed in their personification of musical armageddon.The songs are still huge lumbering monoliths of 8-13 minutes that are firmly rooted in the sound that the band has plied their whole career.
Underwhelming opener “Iesus Nezerunus Mei” personifies the good and the bad -- a rocky 3 minutes of forgettable riffs and Roque’s vocals, but at around 3:47, the track explodes into a thunderous romp and the rest of the album truly takes off. One could argue that The Project Hate is treading water with their formula (no one seems to mind Amon Amarth doing it), but it’s a formula that they have absolutely perfected, a formula that works and a formula I still immensely enjoy. Roque’s vocals aside, when the band transitions from a lumbering riff to a clean vocal segment, atmospheric keyboard bridge or beat-filled techno section (or all three), the likes of which grace every track, I'm still enamored with the overall result, even 8 albums later. As with all the albums, there aren’t really standout tracks, but a series of consistently rendered tracks that have standout moments tucked within them. Take for example the atmospheric / techno break at 2:44 of “They Shall All Be Witnesses” (the song that should have started the album, in my humble opinion) and the album's most complete cut, “Summoning Majestic War”.
As with some of their recent efforts, the sound is magnificent, again produced by Lord K, and there’s plenty of guests delivering various solos and vocals, including Mike Wead (Mercyful Fate/King Diamond), Christian Älvestam (ex-Scar Symmetry, Miseration, etc) , Leif Edling (Candlemass) and Jocke Widfeldt (Vicious Art), though there's nothing quite as exciting as the Martin Van Drunen, LG Petrov, Christian Älvestam combo of The Lustrate Process.
Ultimately, fans of The Project Hate are going to eat up Bleeding the New Apocalypse, and those who think they are a boring, one-trick pony won’t change their opinions. I personally fall into the former group, and while Roque’s vocals occasionally bothered me, they don’t detract from the band and their mission that’s stayed the course of excellence for over a decade now.
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