I write this review after coming in from a walk in the night time snow. It's March in Glasgow
and yet the snow is falling all around, whipped into icy blasts by the wind, then settling onto the ground to become the freezing puddle in my worn out trainers. It is somewhat cliche, I must admit, to listen to black metal in the snow, especially an album as unsubtlely wintry as this one, but yet it feels natural.
' was the final album from Ukrainian pagan black metallers Hate Forest
, a band who were never shy of a cold, raw attack. They never had the production values of Dimmu Borgir
, the mystique of Mayhem
or the icy, regal assault of prime Satyricon
. What Hate Forest
excelled at was the ambience; the harsh, monotonous rhythms becoming almost hyponotic in their intensity. This provides the perfect backdrop for the howling vocals, which hit you like that frosty wind when you leave the safety of a building and venture out into the open blizzard. Yet the vocals are never overused, there is always room for the riffs to weave their wintry tapestry without the distraction of lyrical content. They sit clear in the mix, which is dry as dust but suits this type of thing, and sound like some Lovecraftian creature crawling from the abyss.
It is not a particularly long album, in fact during that short walk from my girlfriend's flat I listened to the entire thing; at 32 minutes it may never compete with grindcore length but it is compact, succinct. The songs cut out and start abruptly, no hanging around with fade outs, acoustic intros or anything approaching accessibility. Coupled with the mercilessly cold vocal delivery, it completes a rather inhuman sound; calculating, psychopathic, almost machine like.
It feels odd to compare a work of such harsh, cold music to the tender glow of a snowy landscape, even when its the unforgiving grey of inner city Glasgow
. But there are subtle parallels. Facing such a raw, elemental force is harsh, its painful and damn if your extremities don't sting afterwards. But it possesses a cold majesty that when you look closely enough, you can truly appreciate its beauty. Hate Forest
may never be beautiful, but metal fans who can find the inner beauty in the frozen wilderness of black metal could do much worse than this. A frost bitten gem.