The alliteratively appealing Handful of Hate have been honing their wicked, brimstone-scorched craft since 1993, and judging by the ripping, viciously acerbic fruits of the Italians’ most recent studio labours, these two and a half decades have been put to exceptionally productive use. Indeed, where many acts of a similar vintage are content to stick rigidly to the primitive, blackened conventions of bygone times, ‘Adversus’ is a record that audibly bristles with compositional ingenuity and vigour. Paired with bewildering extremes of brain-liquefying speed and impeccable precision, this tight and unrelenting ten-tracker satisfies on a varied multitude of different levels.
From the moment its opening mass of stomping, militaristic footfalls dies away beneath deliciously expansive layerings of battleground-worthy choirs and darkly unfurling whorls of tremolo, it’s with violent and explosive immediacy that we’re ushered into the epic throes of ‘An Eagle Upon My Shield’. But before we’ve barely had chance to savour so much as a tantalising drop of these rich, coldly majestic atmospheres, we’re promptly catapulted into a frantic assault of raggedly visceral thrash that leaves the synapses joyously crackling with adrenaline.
As generously laden with deathly atmospherics as it is bristling with propulsive blasts and scalding, Dark Funeral-flavoured riffage, ‘Carved in Disharmony’ is a vicious, intricately complex gem of a standout. Elsewhere, ‘Down Lower’s’ tortured goblin shrieks stir the senses to a frenzied climax of pulverising pleasure atop dense, distortion-drenched layers of frantically accelerating fretwork that palpably reeks of the grave. And despite the richness and complexity underpinning each of these uniquely orchestrated tracks, there is, in the same breath, a pleasingly economical feel about HoH’s compositional style – instantly engaging, ever-changing and with no trace of filler or lazy repetition to be found anywhere within this relentlessly exhilarating, 43-minute offering.
That said, within this uniformly blistering mix, there’s something especially arresting about the epic and darkly entrancing ‘Thorns to Redemption’. Deftly counterbalancing bristling, viciously angular riffs alongside luxuriant lashings of sumptuous melodic trappings, it’s with coldly immersive majesty that these respective elements are intermingled to electrifying effect. And from the brimstone-scorched, rhythmically addictive groove of ‘Idols to Hung’ through to ‘Celebrate Consume’s’ frantically battering throes, this is dark and viciously diverse listening to devour.
'Adversus' is out 10th May via code666