Hate – Auric Gates of Veles (Metal Blade)

Given the stratospheric rise of their compatriots Behemoth, it’s often been easy to overlook the contribution Hate have made to global extreme metal: the Poles have a discography to be proud of and since their inception in 1991, have helped to cement their nation’s place as a powerhouse for death and black metal.

Auric Gates of Veles – their first for Metal Blade – will further boost Hate’s reputation. Like its predecessor, 2017’s Tremendum, the album draws on Slavic mysticism as its inspiration (Veles is a Slavic god of the underworld) , and while it’s propelled by thunderous, artillery barrage rhythms and rapid fire blastbeats, much of the Poles’ 11th opus is enveloped in a cloak of blackened atmospherics. Thriskhelion is a perfect example – a black/death collision where layers of charred melancholy intertwine with heart stopping brutality.

And that’s just one of the highlights on an album brimming with otherworldly menace.

Sovereign Sanctity is a soul-stirring blackened hymn, driven by chilling chord progressions and pummelling double bass kicks, while The Volga’s Veins – referencing bloodbaths like the battle of Stalingrad – pulls Slavic melodies into the carnage to create some of Hate’s most evocative work to date.

The title track may meander a little too much for its own good, lacking the raw energy found on tracks like Seventh Manvantara, but elsewhere the writing is sharp, incisive and visceral. You feel this record in your bones, you don’t just listen to it.

And if you want total, heads-down annihilation, there are moments on Generation Sulphur and Path To Arkhen that will slake your thirst – to the point of almost being overwhelming.

However, this is a fully realised musical vision, one where subtle twists are embraced, where layers of darkness build up and then disintegrate, an album that taps straight into an ancient world. As such, it’s one hell of an achievement for Hate – and proof that founder ATF Sinner has not lost his edge after nearly two decades.