By Dr. Abner Mality

Things have been quiet lately in the land of kielbasa and Pope John Paul II as far as death metal goes, but the new album from perennial contenders Hate might just stir the pot up a bit. It's an offering of thoughtfully punishing DM with a cold, deliberate feel to it. Industrial elements have always hovered in the background of Hate's works and they do so here, but never to the point where they overtake the metal. There's a lot of atmosphere on "Solarflesh" and the music sounds almost ritualistic in the way its composed. Opening instrumental "Watchful Eye of Doom" is a great opening salvo, sounding kind of like a slowed-down Nile funeral march before seguing into "Eternal Might". This second song doesn't come blasting in like you might expect, but continues a deliberate, tank-like plod that builds in layers, with strong lead soloing and powerful roars from Adam TFS.

There are echoes of other Polish stalwarts like Behemoth and Vader in Hate's music, but given an indivudualistic slant. The two best tracks, "Festival of Slaves" and "Mesmerized", make great use of ethnic, Middle Eastern sounding backing vocals to give them personality...the former song is the best song I've ever heard from Hate, a fascinatingly brutal and epic slice of mystical death metal. Other high points include the aggressive "Alchemy of Blood" (with strong Vader overtones) and "Sadness Will Last Forever", which is more mid-paced crush with ambient and ethnic touches. The only song I felt was a letdown was "Endless Purity", where the cold, robotic feel really drags after a while. And although the drums are very powerful in the mix, they sound as triggered as hell.

"Solarflesh" is a top-level product from these guys in every way. I'm not sure it will break them into the worldwide prominence they've been seeking for over a decade, but it won't be for lack of trying.