Hate – Rugia


Poland’s Hate are like Norway’s Blood Red Throne – they’ve been banging on the escape hatch of the metal underground for over two decades and can boast an impressive litany of record labels during that time. Listenable Records and Napalm Records once backed them, and now the mighty Metal Blade are ready to put their faith in them for their twelfth album. With a new drummer and lead guitarist, founding member, ATF Sinner, relishes yet another challenge with a different band behind him and this time delivers a scorcher of blackened death metal in the process. Rugia is an exhilarating sonic experience that will leave you intoxicated like an ancient Baltic warrior venerating Perkūnas (the Baltic God of Thunder).

It’s easy to see why Metal Blade signed Hate after the blistering first-third of this LP. Opener and title track, ‘Rugia’, starts as a melodic doom metal composition to give the drummer a chance to feel his way into the song before ATF Sinner’s muscular roar gives the signal for the transition to an all-out death metal attack. You’re still asking what happened to your senses when they finish. This blitzkrieg sounds like a down-tuned thrash band in fast-forward mode, yet ‘The Wolf Queen’ could be Morbid Angel playing black metal. One minute they’re exploring the fast tremolo patterns of Immortal, the next moment they’re grinding through early 90s death metal. ‘Exiles of Pantheon’ is the perfect snapshot of the current Hate approach – the blast beats imitate machine guns, and the palm-muted guitars feel like fighter jets taking aim at enemy targets. ATF Sinner’s vocals invite you to imagine the endless possibilities of the immortal stanza, “They phase right through the graves/ Fearless army of dying titans/ In human flesh/ Venom boiling in their eyes.”

Of course, Hate’s brand of blackened death metal will draw comparisons with their fellow countrymen and the genre’s finest exponents in Behemoth. On this evidence, they’re more than capable of fighting off this lazy reference. ‘Resurgence’ is a thunderous piece of black metal wrapped in sixteenth-note drum patterns and a surprise bass groove in the verse parts. The way they stride through the landscape like Slavonic marcher lords gives new meaning to the word valour. You’re devoid of life if you’re not gripping your hands into fist shapes after the imperious battle cry of ‘Sun of Extinction’. Listen to those guitars – ouch! Those crunchy chords pulsate like an open hand wound doused in vinegar.

Hate had a tour with Suffocation and Belphegor booked before the Covid-19 pandemic put all plans on hold. The inertia allowed them to dig even deeper into ancient Slavonic mysticism and to frame their lyrical themes around the universal stories of great migrations, wars of survival, and ways to master the rapacity of the earth’s unforgiving environment. They’re not the first to carve out this niche, but Hate could be the onward purveyors of its evolution over the next decade. Rugia is a triumph of death metal and another reminder that the artists we underrate in the genre are often the ones with the ability to surprise.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 15/10/2021

Record Label: Metal Blade

Standout tracks: The Wolf Queen, Resurgence, Sun of Extinction

Suggested Further Listening: Varmia – bal Lada (2021), Nightfall – At Night We Prey (2021), Blood Red Throne – Imperial Congregation (2021)