Like Sweden and Norway, Poland has a very distinctive sound when it comes to its death metal output. Bands such as Behemoth, Vader and (earlier) Decapitated perfectly embody this sound, as does another, perhaps lesser-mentioned band: Hate. Hate emerged around the same time as Behemoth, who are by far their closest contemporary. Whereas Vader and Decapitated display a more groove-oriented, straight death metal sound, Hate took the blackened death sound Behemoth were doing and ran with it. In other words, Hate is to Behemoth as Decapitated is to Vader.
That said, Hate has a distinct, almost war-like air about them that distinguishes them as something more than just a Behemoth clone. They released Solarflesh: A Gospel of Radiant Divinity in 2013, which was well-received by critics and fans of the band alike, but that same year, they also suffered a terrible loss. Mortifer, their bassist, passed away on April 6 after suffering from a cardiac arrhythmia, leaving Hate without one of their most treasured members. Any other band might have called it quits after such a tragedy, but as evidenced by their fellow death metal brethren Decapitated, the Polish spirit is resilient, and Hate set out to create their ninth studio album, Crusade: Zero.
A short, orchestral intro opens the album up, followed by a fuller instrumental intro, which then leads into the album’s first real song, ‘Death Liberator.’ The decision to have two separate intro tracks seems a little tedious, but in their defense, they do serve as a good build up into the crushing opening track. All the staples of Hate are present in ‘Death Liberator’; blackened melodies, double bass assaults, and battle-charging riffs. Adam the First Sinner’s vocals are utterly destructive and call the listener to arms almost immediately. There are a lot of great musical moments to be found throughout the duration of Crusade: Zero, including air-drum worthy tom gallops and fills courtesy of drummer Pavulon, and this marks perhaps the best production job yet by the Wiesławski Brothers on a Hate album. The mix sounds great, and the guitar leads and solos laid down by Destroyer are more prominent and noticeable than they’ve ever been before.
Although Crusade: Zero truly is a great representation of the Polish blackened death style, it unfortunately is more of the same of what we’ve come to expect from Hate. Nothing about the album is truly outstanding, which is a real shame, considering the level of musicianship Hate displays. 2013’s Solarflesh is a stronger effort overall, and it doesn’t quite reach the level that Anaclasis: A Haunting Gospel of Malice and Hatred achieved. The reception to Crusade: Zero might also be partially skewed because all three of their fellow Polish contemporaries released albums last year, and frankly, each of them made a much more lasting impact than Hate has with Crusade: Zero. That being said, it is commendable for Hate to continue making music after the tragic loss of Mortifer and attempt to carry on their legacy in the Polish metal scene, and with Crusade: Zero, Hate have made an album that is sure to make Mortifer proud, wherever he may be.
Hate – Crusade: Zero gets…