How many black metal bands in the past have proven to be truly progressive, innovative or even avant garde? You might find several bands that fit that niche. Even some big acts in black metal could be included under the Progressive black metal umbrella, such as Enslaved and Ihsahn. Let’s turn our attention to Black Hate now. Hailing from Mexico, the promising group have released an album that pushes the “black metal” label in directions seldom seen. With Through the Darkness we have an album that breathes new life into tired black metal tropes and dares to stand on it’s own. So what do they do differently that sets them apart from their peers? What can we correlate Through the Darkness with to find out what makes it unique?
The meat and potatoes of Through the Darkness is incredibly dissonant and abrasive tremolo picked chords with moments of suspense created by staccato “1 beat per bar” sections of tribal throat singing and ambient guitar. The music tends to crescendo into blisteringly fast black metal or climactic moments borrowed from other genres of metal. These other moments are real head turners. Black Metal has an aversion to guitar solos and genre switching typically, but here you’ll find moments of sheer guitar wanking or pure deathgrind. The band has a knack for driving into a wall, so to speak. They will do their relentless black metal pummel until the music demands a change. They contrast the transitions between the wall of sound of their black metal and their deathgrind moments very starkly. Fans of Anaal Nathrakh, Cattle Decapitation and Behemoth will all find a similar brand of deathgrind on this album. If you like Black Metal you’ll find an Immortal style sound that strays really far into Blut Aus Nord territory. Most traditional Black Metal fans will enjoy that aspect.
However, when the band isn’t in full gear the music is typically weaker. While it’s incredibly ambitious to incorporate throat singing and Doom metal chugging between some of the most balls to the wall black metal the genre has to offer. It doesn’t necessarily mean that these parts are bad, as they stand on their own in Black Hate’s catalogue of experimentation. But they feel too disjointed here. It creates a vibe that the band only have two speeds: Insanely fast and uneventfully slow. If they managed to incorporate both sounds with a more mid-tempo “black n’ roll” type sound or something, Black Hate could rise to highest echelon of progressive black metal.
It is incredibly impressive how diverse the palate they have created is on Black Hate. Even the black metal ranges from epic to atonal and claustrophobic. The vocals are all over the place croaking, shrieking and growling. Guitar tones range from incredibly beefy to classic blackened fuzzed. The drums are incredibly crisp. The blast beats range in the music produced as a clear backbone for the most aggressive moments but the slow tom hits and rim clicks ring through the empty space of their slower parts. Most everything is masterfully produced on this record. Each element of the sound blending seamlessly, lending a lot of success to the large array of sounds the band is striving to achieve.
Black Hate have pushed the envelop on Through the Darkness. Its contrasts in sound are a bit disjointed but if you can get past it, it’s incredibly successful when it turns things up to eleven. The throat singing is an unusual addition that may be offputting to some, but enthralling to others. The guitar solos set it apart fromt the dissonant nature of typical black metal. With Deathgrind pushing them into some of the filthiest sounding extreme metal acts, being able to stack up to the best of Progressive Black Metal at the same time is no small achievement. The album is a must listen for its marriage of these strange elements, even if it doesn’t quite pan out as carefully as the music was produced.
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