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It’s Not Just the SEO: (Keyword) Hate’s Crusade Has Near-Zero Relevance

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Editor’s Note: Opinions are like assholes; everyone’s got one. As such, while MS co-head-honcho Vince Neilstein has been digging Hate’s new album, reviewer Dave Mustein did not feel the same way. So it goes! Carry on. 

Besides having the worst SEO of all time, Poland’s Hate are best renowned for sounding like a near-clone of their compatriots Behemoth. It’s a reputation that has proven difficult to shake, but perhaps for good reason. The band’s similarities are undeniable, down to the vocal delivery and both bands’ fondness for dramatic orchestration. Unfortunately, the band’s newest release Crusade:Zero does little to counter this comparison, as even its good tracks are riddled with stale riffs and hackneyed themes. Crusade:Zero is the type of album you’ve heard more times than you can count: it has both strengths and shortcomings, but its strengths have been played out for a good long while. As a result, the album is unremarkable, and liable to be forgotten as soon as it’s turned off.

Despite this harsh judgment, there is still plenty to like on Crusade:Zero: the almost doomy coiling and uncoiling of the riffs in “Death Liberator;” the frigid blast in “Rise Omega The Consequence!;” the nauseous dissonances that float around the back of “Leviathan.” Crusade:Zero is heavy, technical, and atmospheric, chock full of staccato breakdowns and octaved chord passages. But though the riffs impress at first, a closer listen reveals a number of imbalances. Incongruous, OTT melodic solos crop up in about half the tracks, but ten-ton tremolo passages are left awkwardly unembellished. Crusade:Zero is poorly organized, with four “interludes” and six tracks at the 5-6 minute mark: tracks that aren’t concise enough to be crushing singles but which often don’t develop long enough to fully establish any sort of narrative flow.

Ultimately, though, Crusade:Zero’s biggest issue is with its relevance. In a vacuum, Hate kick ass, but when looked at in context, the album feels tired and formulaic. This fatigue is evident in the album’s song titles (“Hate Is The Law,” “Dawn of War,” “Death Liberator”), and in its cliché samples, but it’s most obvious in the music. Hate are still playing, more or less, the same music they were making in their heyday, down to the dated anti-Christian sentiments. Hate don’t seem that interested in change, which is fine, but the album simply pales in comparison to more forward-thinking offerings from other purveyors of blackened death metal and even to the band’s past material. When all is said and done, Crusade:Zero is still a great album to listen to, but its lack of staying power prevents it from being as worthwhile a listen as the great albums of Hate’s fellow genre-mates.

Hate’s Crusade:Zero comes out on February 10 via Napalm Records. You can stream the track “Leviathan” here and pre-order the album here.

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