Hate – “Auric Gates Of Veles” (Metal Blade Records)
Close to 30 years on, and Hate still live up to their name! With 2017’s “Tremendum” taking a step toward a darker, more atmospheric, black metal-oriented style as well as exploring Slavonic mysticism, this 11th release boldly continues further in that direction. With Vele, a Slavic deity representing the dark element of existence the central figure in most of the lyrics, this album is very much an invitation to a tradition that long pre-dates Christianity, although so much of it can be related back to today’s world. With a clear intention to create a titanic record, frontman vocalist / guitarist ATF Sinner has achieved that spectacularly across the 8 intense tracks here, each one of them an anthem in its own right, skillfully employing a range of tempos, as well as a liberal use of atmospherics be it through occasional serenity – or overt savagery! If you’re a fan of dark, nihilistic slide riffing and blackened death metal taken to gargantuan proportions on an epic scale, then “Auric Gates Of Veles” is for you. In fact, it’s such a ferocious and multi-layered release that while being captured immediately by its energy, you’ll definitely require more than one listen to appreciate its subtleties, although this discovery is well worth it in truly understanding this tremendous album. Blasting in with evil warbles and dirty rawness on ‘Thriskhelion’, the unbelievable pace set by Pavulon’s stampeding drums is tempered by a recognisable underlying epic melody, while ATF Sinner’s own menacing roars are equally recognisable as the neo classical solo shows as much finesse as decadence in its wailing abandon – superb. ‘Sovereign Sanctity’ is about someone dying in battle but not leaving the material world completely and as such touches on existential issues, captured vividly by the icy, clanging melodies chiming away and ATF Sinner’s ominous drawls and haunting whispers before the massive slide riffing propelled by Pavulon brings on a hugely catchy headbanging groove that did wonders to my soul! Still, nothing could prepare me for the title track ‘Auric Gates Of Veles’, a veritable colossus among the giants here, building menacingly yet equally with an underlying passion and awash with dark mysticism in its all possessing riffs and told forebodingly through ATF Sinner’s grim drawls – unbelievable. Possibly Hate’s finest production to date, this is sonic destruction graced by the soul of the ancients.