Blackened-death metal is an interesting genre of music. Within its nuances, the genre explores musical extremes with a specific focus. On the outside, one may reduce this genre to a set of generalities – blast beats, atmospheric riffs and at other times mad-fast catchy riffs. These generalities are no doubt enjoyable to the quintessential metalhead. But dig deeper and one might find a deeper meditative voice in the extremities of this genre. I think it is this aspect that creates a sense of uniqueness to explore for bands of this genre. Hate is no less when it comes to exploring these extremes as maybe as a niche – you’ve really got to dig deep to find that meditative spirit. Of course, you will find it! It is there waiting to be discovered on the band’s newest album ‘Auric Gates of Veles’.
The album wastes no time and gets right down to the business of hard-hitting metal with the track “Seventh Manvantara”. Right off the back, the music utilizes a great mix of blasts, atmospheric riffs, and some fast rhythmic ones. The vocals are impressive on this track and right away high expectations are set! “Thriskhelion” is next up. It is my favorite track off the album. The riff that sets in right after the atmosphere in the intro is super sweet. The song sounds massive and transitions between atmospheric sections and faster riffs are smooth and well arranged. “The Volga’s Veins” orients more towards old school extreme metal. The overall composition of the song and black metal-esque riffs on this one almost sounds like a tribute to the older stalwarts of extreme metal. This style makes itself more apparent with the song ‘Sovereign Sanctity’. The song is well placed and it does the job.
“Path to Arkhen” is a really really interesting song off the album. It dives into a more experimental setting for the band’s music. This song really narrows down on finding a very narrow niche of extreme metal waiting to be explored and expanded. Top notch stuff right there! The title track “Auric Gates of Veles” makes a quick return to some of the old school motifs. The difference here is that this song takes that motif and makes it so much heavier and extreme. There is a constant sway between extremes in this song, almost as though the song becomes cross-temporal in time while exploring possibilities of blackened-death metal. I suppose the same could be said for the album too. “Salve Ignis” is on the faster side of things. As the album draws to a close, I think a really fast track nicely ushers in the ending. The album closes with “Generation Sulphur”. The closing track takes over from the previous track nicely. This is a mark of a well-arranged album. The final song is a culmination of all the sounds one hears on this album. This song is however more oriented towards the catchy side of things with the tasty riffs. The blasts work really well with the atmospheric riff work. A really good close to a good album!
All in all, ‘Auric Gates of Veles’ by Hate is a good album for those looking out to enjoy a wide platter of black metal and death metal sounds and themes. This album is complete in itself as far as working within the stylistic settings of blackened-death metal. This album tows a very narrow middle line between black and death metal. Apart from the actual composition and writing of the song, which I believe shows the band sticking close to their influences, the sound and the mix of the album caters to an old school sound but with much better clarity and engineering. The mix and production quality sets new benchmarks for achieving a very specific yet comprehensive blackened-death metal sound. On the flip side, this album might take a few listening sessions for one to really dive deep into the sound and enjoy it to its full potential. Maybe it is even easy to miss out this potential. But hey, it’s waiting out there!