“Hour of the Centaur”

By Anathema Decree

Fifteen years since his last LP, Roman Saenko surprised long time HATE FOREST devotees with the unexpected release of this brand new studio album. “Hour of the Centaur”, the fifth full length from the Ukrainian veteran, and DRUDKH architect, is yet another phenomenal contribution to HATE FOREST's storied discography.

The tried and true hallmarks of his sound are in full heraldry throughout the thirty-eight minute run-time. The mid-tempo, driving, melodic riffs pummel the listener with cyclical compositional structures and august poise. A captivating aura hypnotizes the listener, through the masterful use of this simplistic and cultivated formula.

The guitar tone itself is perhaps less harsh than previous efforts, and less hot in the mix, allowing every note played to be extremely decipherable. Roman's patented hollow growl makes its familiar return on “Hour of the Centaur”. The low registered trademark vocal delivery remains somewhat unorthodox compared to contemporaries in the genre.

Once again, programmed drums are utilized on this album, but the samples themselves seem to be purposefully more akin to traditional drum sounds than the more obviously fabricated, digitized tones, from previous efforts. HATE FOREST is one of the very few black metal bands that seems to lose nothing from this approach. In fact, the cold and relentless nature of this stratagem adds to the desolating atmosphere, from my perspective.

I enjoy the overall mix and production on “Hour of the Centaur” quite a bit. It, seemingly a more matured and deliberately calculated auditory experience comparatively, when looking at prior releases.

In my opinion, this record ranks extremely high when looking at the heap of albums that dropped in 2020. The fact that after waiting for fifteen years, it was unexpectedly released with little adornment, is just icing on the cake. Fans of HATE FOREST can't go wrong when purchasing this long awaited instant classic.