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  • Review by Faye Coulman

REVIEWED: Hate - 'Rugia'

From their every weightily pulverising blast and gargantuan slab of sinewy groove to elegantly manipulated lashing of tremolo, Hate have long been seasoned pros at manifesting a truly staggering sonic presence. Indeed, with its expansive mix of craggy, frost-stricken riffage, bone-shattering brute force and morbidly absorbing atmospherics, 2019 masterwork ‘Auric Gates of Veles’ carved out dizzying new heights of genre-smashing compositional alchemy, expertly blending its various, pitch-black component parts in a manner that only these visionary Polish aggressors are capable of doing.

Fast forward to the year 2021, and it’s clear this thoroughly caustic formula has undergone more than its share of innovative stylistic adjustments since then. With the hyper-blasting talents of newly recruited drummer Daniel ‘Nar-Sil’ Rusiłowicz injecting a generous measure of vicious, ’90s-tinged extremity into the mix, anticipated follow-up ‘Rugia’ is, without doubt, their most uncompromisingly ferocious offering yet.

Through thick, endlessly contorting strains of distortion and eerie ambient echoes that abound with ritualistic menace, monstrous eponymous opener ‘Rugia’ takes ample time to flood the synapses with its coldly entrancing magic. Then, it’s with brutalising yet tautly controlled momentum that we hurtle headlong into a machinegun-paced implosion of blastbeats as an unrelenting hail of searing tremolo accents pour forth in thick and fast succession. Elsewhere, ‘Awakening the Gods’ blisters with white-hot, staccato-laden fury, its hammering blasts imploding in amongst rich layerings of bone-scraping hooks and duskily abrasive bass. Evidently, the many months the band reportedly spent painstakingly honing and perfecting the final studio mix ahead of ‘Rugia’s’ release have paid audible dividends, with even the most delicate and subtly atmospheric details showcasing impeccable, crisply-handled clarity.

Among the numerous highlights to grace Hate’s latest, violently energised opus, ‘Exiles of Pantheon’ benefits particularly from the aforementioned meticulous production values, its intricately snaking slivers of tremolo and bass-laden riffage coalescing to create an assault that’s as gloriously awash with brutality as it is drenched in deathly atmospherics. But, alongside these exhilarating levels of aggression, it’s arguably the intensely sinister ‘Saturnus’ that revels in some of the most mesmerising atmospheres these skilled composers have ever created. Permeating its death and black metal-driven dynamics with hauntingly absorbing fretwork that elevates this track to the stuff of epic, infernal majesty, its dusky wealth of elegantly twisting guitar accents here showcase eerie beauty in glorious abundance.

At a mere, strikingly economical 35-minute runtime, Hate have created an album that achieves, on one hand, a feat of vicious and impeccably tight concision, without so much as a millisecond wasted on anything that could be even vaguely construed as filler. And yet, from luxuriant whorls of distortion-drenched guitars and ripping lashings of angular hooks to tremendous blasts that rumble like the thunderous footfalls of an enraged demigod, this is, in the same breath, a rich and thoroughly immersive exercise in genre-transcending extremity.


'Rugia' is out now via Metal Blade


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