Overall Score: 8/10 Riffs: 7/10 Solos: 9/10 Musical Progression: 8/10 Pros: Incredible solos | ferocious vocals | consistent blast beats Cons: Lack of stand out riffs | falls short in comparison to the band's previous work.
Polish blackened death metal act Hate never have quite reached the same levels of success as their fellow countrymen Behemoth but have always maintained substantial success in the underground extreme metal circuit. 2013’s Solarflesh was certainly a step in the right direction with perfectly executed riffs and a lovely fusion of the blackened death metal sound and now, two years later, the band are back with their ninth studio record; Crusade: Zero. Does this new offering by Hate continue to send the band in the right direction or does it fall at the first hurdle?
Crusade: Zero certainly carries on the formula Hate have created since their inception 25 years ago, as throughout the record the listener is treated to twelve songs of pure fury. There are several interesting aspects to Crusade: Zero however, that both make the record stand out in a genre of stagnation but at the same time limits the record to it’s potential reach. What is particularly interesting about this record is that, whilst it is common to have a short introduction track to kick start the record, Crusade: Zero features two. And whilst it does delay the carnage one would expect from Hate, it successfully builds anticipation for what is to come. It’s an interesting aspect to this record, and it does show that the band are prepared to break the formula that is commonplace across this style of music.
By the time the two introductory tracks close the listener is exposed to the remaining ten tracks which, in theory, should boast Hate’s true musical potential and for the most part they reach the same heights that was seen with Solarflesh. Death Liberator for example roars to life in the opening seconds with ATF Sinner’s vocals roaring over the slow pounding rhythm of blackened death metal. It paints a picture of what to expect with Crusade: Zero and this has both positive and negative aspects towards it. One of the best musical characteristics that Hate are recognisable for is the signature pounding riffs that can unleash serious cases of whiplash to any listener and whilst several are present on Crusade: Zero, they do not reach the same ferocity that was so common on previous material. For example Leviathan opts for breakneck speed that screams black metal influence through frequent blast beats and whilst this is musically impressive, there is a sense that this record is lacking somewhat.
However, the best musical characteristic of Crusade: Zero is the increased and focused use of solo guitar play that is featured across the entirety of the record. There are frequent solos and intricate riffs throughout that are played to perfection which as a result boasts the sheer talent that Hate possess. The break in pace through intricate guitar play featured on Doomsday Celebrations and the ferociously fast solo on Hate Is The Law are just singular examples of the progression the band has made since their last record. It’s musically masterful and showcases how the band aren’t afraid to experiment with their approach to song writing.
Crusade: Zero is a strong offering by Hate and whilst experimentation is explored, it’s important to state that many of the aspects that have built Hate’s reputation remain; machine gun fire drumming, ferocious vocal work and slamming riffs are ever present on Crusade: Zero. Whilst the record does just fall short in comparison to the band’s previous work, what we have here is another solid addition to a band’s excellent discography. Crusade: Zero carries the blackened death metal assault onwards.
Crusade: Zero is set for release on January 25th via Napalm Records.