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Napalm (2013)
Rating: 8.5/10

You can always trust the old school death metal bands to bring the genre kicking and growling into the 21st century, and with 23 years experience behind them Polish death metallers Hate have released one hell of a record in Solarflesh.

Despite this being their eighth album, Hate have bubbled nastily away on the underground death metal scene for years, but hopefully a deal with renowned Napalm Records will see them spreading their unholy noise far and wide and garner them the recognition they deserve.

The opening instrumental ‘Watchful Eye Of Doom’ soon explodes into a maelstrom of fury in the form of ‘Eternal Might’, and references to fellow countrymen Behemoth first spring to mind. But rather than being a carbon copy, Hate have refined a sound of their own and added elements from the schools of Nile and Morbid Angel to concoct a brew that is as poisonous as it is exhilarating. More importantly, they have elements that so many of today’s more modern bands lack – dynamics and songs. It’s all very well blasting away at 3000mph, à la Hate Eternal, but if there’s no substance evident, then mediocrity will soon beckon. Luckily for them, Hate not only know how to blast away (such as on ‘Timeless Kingdom’), but they also know how to apply the brakes where it matters, as on the epic ‘Sadness Will Last Forever’.

The vocals of Adam The First Sinner (aka Adam Buszko) are delightfully deathly without resorting to pig squeals or muffled barks, and bring to mind Martin van Drunen (Hail Of Bullets / Asphyx / Grand Supreme Blood Court / ex-Pestilence). The guitar work is exemplary as well; although after two decades in the game some level of musicianship should be expected, it is still refreshing to hear technicality used in a way that benefits the music. Melodies are also at the forefront of Hate’s music, evident on the title track which bears some resemblance to Kreator and Nile.

In all, Solarflesh should be regarded as a modern necessity in any death metal fan’s collection and in years to come may even be held in as high esteem as genre classics such as Morbid Angel’s Altars Of Madness (1989) and Entombed’s Left Hand Path (1990). As a snapshot of death metal in 2013, it shows that the genre has still a lot to offer after a quarter of a century, but only time will tell if Hate have created a death metal masterpiece.

Neil Not

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