At the risk of adopting the sort of nonsensical, overblown rhetoric famously associated with a certain, less-than-verbally-adept US president, the sheer scale and enormity - ‘bigness’, if you will - of Hate’s intensely vicious, ritualistic craft is the first thing you’ll notice about newly unleashed epic ‘Auric Gates of Veles’. And what a towering, tautly orchestrated slab of undiluted wickedness this is.
Having ventured into increasingly frostbitten sonic territories with 2017 smash ‘Tremendum’, this recent stylistic shift has since brought with it a seemingly limitless new lease of creativity. Melding their finely-honed instinct for pulverising, frantically energised aggression together with a nightmarish host of snaking, coldly reverberating atmospherics, these seasoned players wasted little time in forging a fresh, tautly cohesive new sound out of these respective dynamics. But while it’s easy to tidily compartmentalise ‘…Veles’ as the next logical step on from its deliciously sinister predecessor, the vast, restlessly shifting intensity of sound contained within makes clear this is no simple, uncomplicated continuation of Hate’s sound post-2017.
With this uniquely vicious mix sourcing rich inspiration from an ancient form of pagan mysticism that long predates the oppressive stranglehold of militant Christianity, ‘…Veles’ is a record thoroughly awash with the wrath of the ancients. Like the pounding, thunderously gargantuan footfalls of a vengeful demigod, hyper-aggressive standout ‘Path to Arkhen’ easily carves its crushingly expansive presence, its great, hulking slabs of abrasive riffage quaking and rumbling with brimstone-scorched majesty. Interspersing these deliciously sinewy, subterranean throes with strategically placed bursts of hyperblasting insanity and inky lashings of tremolo, the diabolical three-piece expertly manipulate these energised dynamics to dizzyingly exhilarating effect. Elsewhere, ‘Thriskhelion’s’ ghoulish cacophony of screams punctuate dense layerings of craggy, madly accelerating tremolo, while ‘The Volga’s Veins’ seethe and sizzle with a multitude of bristling, scalpel-edged guitar accents. Tempering these varying degrees of unrelenting aggression with intelligently crafted songwriting and sharply engineered production, theirs is a veritable feast of exhilarating, darkly absorbing listening pleasure.
But it’s not until we reach the writhing, coldly entrancing grooves of masterful title track ‘Auric Gates of Veles’ that Hate’s immense compositional talents are fully revealed to us in all their epic, eerily magnetic glory. With its grandly expansive strains of distortion displaying sultry, full-bodied richness beneath ghoulish lashings of deathly atmospherics, these blackened aggressors hold us relentlessly rapt right up until the very moment the track’s last echoing rumble of percussion finally dies and dissipates, forever, into the ether. Suffice it to say that precious few bands possess such a towering, thoroughly bewitching presence.
'Auric Gates of Veles' is out now on Metal Blade