Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hate Forest

Ildjarn & Hate Forest - Those Once Mighty Fallen
Osmose Productions, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Forest Crypt
2. Ashes of Stars
3. Birds of Misty Dusk
4. Gates to Bottomless Halls
5. Mountains Covered with Snow Forever
6. northern Kingdoms Fell
Hate Forest:
7. Cimmerian Shadows
8. Howl of Hyperborean Winters
9. Sigil of the Gateway
10. Crowned with Crescent Horns
11.Abyss Wanderer

Side Ildjarn: ...I'm not sure I will bother, I'm not an Ildjarn fan, so my review will not be honest...
Side Hate Forest:

Amidst Osmose Productions barrage of Hate Forest re-releases and re-masters we actually get some unreleased Hate Forest material from the old vaults of this project! So, just when I thought I was done with Hate Forest material more unreleased material surfaces. Seriously, how much material is out there?!?! In any event, I'm not about to complain about having new material from this project. The only complaint I really have is about the CD packaging. I think they had a nice idea with a sort of hardback digi-sleeve kind of design, but it is nearly impossible to get the CD out of this thing. It's one of the most frustrating packaging designs to deal with.

The Hate Forest side of this split is actually quite amazing. For a short period of time Hate Forest had a real drummer behind the music, which is why we hear a live performance from 2001 on "Dead but Dreaming". Well these are lost recordings from the days of 2001 once again, but instead this is really quite well recorded. This is basically as Hate Forest was transitioning out of the demo material into the material featured on "Purity", so this music comes out in quite an amazing fashion. It's more closely related to the material found on "The Curse" though, which was apparently a rehearsal recording. The material on this split sounds a lot more crisp than just a rehearsal recording, so I'm not sure it's a rehearsal. However, when they remastered "The Curse" on "To Twilight Thickets" it sounded pretty close to this, so maybe it is. As I mentioned in my "Dead but Dreaming" review it really makes me wonder what "Purity" would have sounded like with more interesting drumming, because with a real drummer this material sounds really brilliant. That mesmerizing effect actually isn't lost in the recording process, just listen to "Crowned with Crescent Horns" and you'll see what I mean. Most of the drum beats are uniform, but the little flair thrown in makes it an even better listen. The only track I wasn't totally into was "Abyss Wanderer" it had a very different atmosphere for the first couple minutes and didn't really fit with the usual Hate Forest style.

This is truly a must have. These songs aren't just throw away tracks that are poorly recorded demo material. These are well recorded entrancing songs from the early days of Hate Forest. This is absolutely must have material for Hate Forest fans! You might want to buy the vinyl or cassette edition though... maybe you can actually get the media out of the packaging in those cases. Now I wonder if there will be more lost recordings surfacing five years from now... we'll see. For now this is the end of the Hate Forest releases with nothing new in sight.

Hate Forest - Dead but Dreaming
Primitive Reaction, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Wściekłość Która Nadchodzi (Arkona Cover)
2. Grief of the Universe
3. lcf
4. In Cold Empty Darkness (Live)
5. To Those Who Came Before Us (Live)
6. Desert of Ice (Live)
7. Cenotaph (Bolt Thrower Cover) (Live)

After the split with Legion of Doom, I really thought we were done with Hate Forest, but another compilation of unreleased material has surfaced. Seriously... how much material is out there sitting in storage or on someone's hard drive? As far as compilations go this one works out pretty well and is basically worth it, in my opinion anyway. It's got a nice blend of unreleased material.

The album opens with a studio recording covering a classic Arkona song off their "Imperium" album. Naturally Hate Forest do a great job with this. After this we get a the previous split release track on CD. Then we have an unreleased Hate Forest original called "lcf". This is an interesting track, the liner notes say it was created in 1995 and 2002. I would definitely believe this music was written in 1995, because it sounds very old and entirely different for Hate Forest. This is really showing the actual age of the project. I wonder if they just revisited this in 2002 and wrote lyrics for it, because I assume "lcf" stands for Lucifer and is an abbreviation used in the book "The Club Dumas". The book was popularized in the form of the film "The Ninth Gate" and "lcf" was a big part of that. "lcf" is a brooding and slow song with very heavy riffing and borders more on the slow Death Metal style popularized by bands like Obituary and Bolt Thrower.

After the original tracks we are treated to a live set from Hate Forest. The recording quality isn't very good, but if you know the songs and how Hate Forest works this fits together okay. I've heard far worse live recordings anyway. When I saw they opened the set with the instrumental "In cold Empty Darkness" I was a little skeptical, but it actually works pretty well when it transitions into "Those Who Came Before Us". It was also really great to hear Hate Forest with real drums instead of programmed. Hearing some fills every now and again makes for a very different experience, but it does sort of lose that mesmerizing effect Hate Forest is sort known for. Some parts are totally enhanced with the more creative drumming and sometimes it makes me wish Hate Forest had chosen to work with a real one... I can only imagine what "Purity" or "Sorrow" would have sounded like. At least we get some sense of that with "Desert of Ice" being recorded live here.

Ultimately, I think this is actually a wonderful celebration of Hate Forest's career. If you are a Hate Forest fan this should be on your must buy list, because the live performance, surprisingly, makes this a very special listen. I definitely recommend checking this out.

Hate Forest & Legion of Doom Split
Zyklon-B Productions, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

Hate Forest:
1. Grief of the Universe
Legion of Doom:
2. Spinning Galaxies

This is a sort of unexpected release. I thought all the Hate Forest material had been released with the "Nietzscheism" so imagine my surprise when I saw a new split 7" it out proclaiming unreleased Hate Forest material. This song is apparently from the 2001 recordings and it is first featured here on this vinyl limited to 200 copies. I think this was supposed to be hand-numbered, but instead mine has a white box with nothing written in it. I wonder if other copies are like this... I bought it from a reputable distro, so that's why I wonder if they are all like this.

As far as songs go, I can see why this wouldn't have really fit on any of the other Hate Forest recordings... however it would have easily fit on an EP instead of nature samples, so I'm not sure why they sat on this song for so long. It has a bit of a strange structure because it is only about four minutes long, bu there are no vocals until about three minutes in. I think that makes the song feel shorter than it is. The riffing doesn't create the usual majestic Hate Forest atmosphere for the first part, but after the vocals kick in it's Hate Forest as usual. So, I can sort of see why this didn't fit initially. It's nice to hear it released finally, but I don't think it's much of a lost gem. Just a curiosity for collectors and die-hard fans.

Hate Forest - Nietzscheism
Supernal Music, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi (by Carl Orff)
2. Annihilation
3. The Wood Brothers
4. Scythia
5. Shining Abyss
Blood and Fire:
6. Aryosophia
7. Nietzscheism
8. Black God
9. Burning Churches

This is supposed to be the final exposé of Hate Forest, with “Sorrow” being the final full length.  To be perfectly honest the main reasons for my purchase of this album were simply based on the fact that I collect and enjoy Hate Forest material.  Most of the Ep’s featured on this re-release I possess in their original formats.  The main factor leading to this is that I only had “Resistance” on Vinyl and I don’t even own “Darkness” at the time of this writing, and I possibly never will at this point.  So why aren't I going to review the music? Mainly because each Ep’s will be reviewed individually in their entirety, so the readers can see what Hate Forest was in that specific era rather than reading a jumble of eras blended on one disc.

As a product this is a great release.  However, it has a few failings.  “Nietzscheism” opens with a superb classical track composed by Carl Orff from his, basically, only work named “Carmina Burana” and it sets a powerful and majestic mood for the Hate Forest material the listener is about to hear.  As a compilation of material it has its ups and downs.  The most major up being that it has the “Resistance 7 inch” in CD format and this may be the only disc buyers will be able to get it on.  Secondly, if you missed out on purchasing the other Ep’s, such as I did with “Darkness” it lets you play catch up and you can get some of the best Hate Forest material ever released.  You can hear an example of that in the song “Nietzscheism,” a personal favorite track of mine.  Again, the real gem on here is the “Resistance Ep” if you truly enjoyed “Sorrow” it has more music in that vein.

The point where this release somewhat fails is that I would have liked to see them release a disc that puts all the past Ep’s together in one giant album.  I realize that this might take a double disc release, but the fact that you only get four Ep’s on here makes it look kind of like they were trying to finish up their album contract rather than releasing a product for their fans.  It’s bad enough that they released “Blood and Fire” and “Ritual” on the same disc as a re-release, never mind the originals, and then this is essentially the third time us listeners get subjected to these tracks.  Why not include “The Gates” one of the lesser pressed Ep’s by Hate Forest? I realize that those two Ep’s are some of the best Hate Forest material, but as a product, giving something a little fresher to the listeners would have made more sense to me.  “Darkness” makes up for this in some ways because it’s one of the earliest Hate Forest recordings and I think this is an excellent part to have on this album because more than likely by 2005 a lot of the newer Hate Forest fans would have missed out on that release.

Overall I think this is a very successful product.  The ups definitely outweigh the downs, even if this is the third time I've purchased “Blood and Fire” and “Ritual.”  (That’s not really true of me personally.)  Either way, I could see it having happened to some Hate Forest fans over the years, but I think “Resistance” and “Darkness” more than make up for that small folly.

Hate Forest - Sorrow
Supernal Music, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Cold of the Grave
2. Fullmoon
3. What the Ruins Remember
4. Fog
5. As the Sunlight Dies
6. Night Harvest
7. Chambers of the Winds

The wall of sound that is Hate Forest returns with their latest full-length, which I purchased immediately upon seeing it's release. "Sorrow" entirely redefines that whole idea of a "wall of sound", which I've mentioned in prior reviews. Some people have complained about it, and I will too, but the way the tracks are cut is very abrupt. Suddenly you find yourself amidst the end of a song, it's so abrupt you're brain doesn't know how to register what just occurred. This is sort of painful to hear, because it creates a sort of disjointed nature of the songs. If you could listen to this as one single long recording it would generate a very different kind of experience. However, if this abrupt cutting creates an interesting "wall" effect for us. If you imported any of the songs into a sound program you would see their wave form is a giant rectangular block. "Sorrow" is literally a block of sound! After seeing this I felt a little better about the abrupt ending of things.

If you enjoy what you've heard on the "Resistance" EP then "Sorrow" is an apt continuation of that aesthetic. In full-length form things are far better though. The speed of the songs ending isn't as much of a problem, because they are swiftly replaced by another song. I almost wish the "Resistance" songs were re-recorded during this session so they could be added to "Sorrow" make this album over forty minutes in length instead of just a little over thirty. The guitar work on here is simply immense and it really creates a droning atmosphere, but an interesting one. Basically Saenko has written music that is so fast that it feels like you are going slow. The riffing is very majestic at times, not to the level that we heard on "Purity" for "Sorrow" is all about intensity and the tone applies some of the denser feelings of "Battlefields". This truly is a magnificent and interesting way to perform, because the work borders on the atmospheric while not actually being atmospheric in design. The riffs really flow into each other and if you listened to this as just one giant song the listener would surely get entranced in the sound, but we are briefly brought back to reality by the severely tight clipping of the songs.

One of the great parts of this release is it is similar to the CD release of "Scythia". It has a beautiful booklet featuring pictures of Hate Forest's local landscapes. This really puts an image to what inspires the writing behind Hate Forest. It's a shame that "Purity" only came with a small booklet with one foldout picture. Either way "Sorrow" sort of makes up for it with having a full booklet for this release.

Unfortunately, this would bet he last full-length produced by Hate Forest. After this release the project would be put to rest, luckily Saenko isn't done with music for we still have Drudkh and soon will have Blood of Kingu. "Sorrow" is truly a sorrowful end, because I will miss this project greatly. It has had immense influence on me as a musician over the years and in the year "Sorrow" was released it would easily rank in my top albums as one of the best. Like "Purity" this receives very frequent plays from me to this day for it truly does stand the test of time even a decade later!

Hate Forest - Resistance
Ledo Takas Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. Annihilation
2. The Wood Brothers

A new Hate Forest EP arrives and so does my skepticism of its quality. With EP's I've learned to expect almost anything from Hate Forest. Despite this feeling of trepidation, I still handed over my money and purchased this 7" vinyl. It features only two tracks and is limited to 666 hand-numbered copies, of which I own #430.

"Annihilation" wastes no time at all before launching into some intense and blasting Black Metal. It's as if Hate Forest have just upped the intensity bar of their prior recordings completely. At this point I was quite relieved, because I wasn't going to be sitting through anything strange and boring. No, "Resistance" is an excellent EP with two great songs and this kind of release hasn't happened since the days of "Blood and Fire". If you liked the song "Annihilation" you will most likely enjoy "The Wood Brothers" which is written in the same vein. Both tracks exhibit a faster more no frills Hate Forest. The track lengths are much shorter this time around as well, which makes the pacing feel even faster, because you don't really have time to get into the atmosphere like you could on a full-length with this kind of intensity. While I miss some of the majestic passages from "Purity" I also really enjoy this vicious and intense Hate Forest. Hopefully this is an indicator of what's to come with this project!

Hate Forest - Battlefields
Supernal Music, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. У Неділю...
2. With Fire and Iron
3. Проведу Я Русалочку...
4. Our Fading Horizons
5. Колискова
6. Glare Over Slavonic Lands
7. Keening

"Battlefields" was originally released as a tape towards the end of 2003 by Slavonic Metal. However, in the interest of keeping albums at least separated to some degree I'm going to slot the CD release as the main release, which I feel was more of the case anyway. It looks like the Ukrainian titled tracks are more thought out and track 7 at least has a title!

Based on my "Purity" review you can imagine my interest in what "Battlefields" had in store and it is actually almost completely different. The first thing this opens with is a Ukrainian traditional songs, which is all vocal based. This theme keeps up because all the Ukrainian titled tracks are these kinds of traditional songs, except "Keening" which is also that kind of track. They're from something, but I have no idea what it means because it's written in Ukrainian on the back.

The tracks with English titles are all Metal tracks and if you were expecting a continuation of "Purity" then you are in for a real different experience. "With Fire and Iron" is the closest we get to the usual style of Hate Forest, but even that's not very close. The tracks are much slower and far more brooding than ever before. The guitar tone is also so much heavier than any of their prior releases and it really creates a dense atmosphere. The tracks are all about ten minutes in length as well, so they are certainly giving off an epic experience. This is definitely a different side of Hate Forest an while the music is different and fairly good, I do much prefer the "Purity" style of Black Metal.

"Battlefields" has it's moments, but you shouldn't expect more of the same from the Hate Forest of before. Given that these releases are so close in recording and writing, I'm not sure if "Battlefields" would indicate a style shift entirely. This could have been something the musicians worked on and just decided to release under the Hate Forest name. As a Hate Forest fan, I did enjoy this release, but it is not something I would come back to very often...

Hate Forest - To Twilight Thickets
Blutreinheit Productions, 2003
Genre: Black Metal/Ambient

The Curse:
1. Inmost Winter
2. To the Thickets and Swamps
3. Black Forest
4. The Most Ancient Ones
5. The Elders
6. Darkness
7. The Night of Winter Solstice
8. The Curse
Temple Forest:
9. Majesty of the Approaching Forest
10. Snow Covers Faded Gold of Autumn
11. First Rays of the Rising Sun
12. Moon
13. Spectral and Sad is Thy Forest Dance
14. Cold Early Morning Mist
15. Winterfall
16. Sunset and Twilight

When I found out about this release it was already too late for me to track down the Blutreinheit Productions release limited to 500 hand-numbered copies. In some respects I was lucky to get the double vinyl re-release in 2005 published by Sodats Inconnus which is limited to 388 hand-numbered copies. The vinyl set is actually very beautiful, but I was pretty happy to see this get reissued in 2011 by Elegy Records on CD along with a remaster. This one doesn't state any limitation, but I imagine there will not be more than one pressing.

Hearing "The Curse" repressed and remastered is very enjoyable. You can really hear some of that killer bass work cut through more than ever before. I think they actually did a good job on this. My original tape version is a bit marred by it being a tape, but being able to hear the guitar work much better is truly wonderful. By this point "The Curse" is something people are pretty familiar with because it's really just all the tracks from "The Most Ancient Ones", just in demo format. The real draw for this release is the "Temple Forest" side of things. Now, I was interested because it was truly advertised as unreleased Hate Forest material, which is true, but the material is not Black Metal. The material is actually all Ambient work and I'm not sure why it was considered as part of Hate Forest, but it was.

To be perfectly honest, I much prefer this to those wasteful wind EP's, because here we at least get something in the form of music. "Temple Forest" sort of reminds me of the days of early Mortiis, maybe not as droney though. "Temple Forest" is pretty simple, but it's a relaxing piece. The keyboards don't have the quality level of modern Ambient, so they do have that sort of 80's synth feel. The music is pretty airy and whispy where the listener is probably just supposed to sit back and listen. Each track has a sort of focal lead line and then that is just played over and over again. Songs like "Sunset and Twilight" have a bit of a medieval flair in their arrangement, which is actually very cool. It would be interesting to see the work on this built upon a bit more. As compared to other Ambient works, I think this is fairly average. Ambient has come a long way since it's days of the early 90's. Groups like Arcana  truly advanced things like this as their instrumentation got so much more complicated over the years. I really think this was the precursor to Saenko's Ambient project Dark Ages, which eventually split off onto it's own thing a few years later.

This is probably a must have for that "The Curse" side of things, since people should hear the original sound of "The Most Ancient Ones", especially if you're a big Hate Forest fan. Unless you're interested in Ambient you might find "Temple Forest" a waste of time sort of, but it wasn't a bad listen. In any event, this is something of a good collectors item.

Hate Forest - Purity
Supernal Music, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Domination
2. Elder Race
3. The Gates
4. Megaliths
5. The Immortal Ones
6. Desert of Ice
7. Cromlech

When I saw a new Hate Forest arrive I was instantly excited to get this. Even though their EP's have been spotty and weird, their full-lengths have usually featured very solid performances that I have found incredibly enjoyable. "Purity" would be no exception to this and this is one of a handful of albums that saw a lot of frequent play during 2003. I come back to "Purity" even today to simply sit and bask in it's glory.

"Purity" is one of the most well composed and beautiful Hate Forest albums ever released. The wall of sound that Hate Forest constructs on this release is actually far more majestic and epic than some of their prior works. You can hear some elements that would probably wind up being more appropriate in a Drudkh release, such as the slower passage in "The Gates", which is stunningly beautiful and a lot better than the EP with the same name. Typically Hate Forest is faster and more intense than the beautiful Drudkh, but on "Purity" we really get a serious blend of the two projects, which I actually think is even better. I think the blend of Hate Forest's viciousness with the more majestic style worked really well with this release. In later releases I think this sort of gets stripped out in favor of a far more intense atmosphere, but on "Purity" we get that blend, which swiftly launches this album into its legendary status amongst the ranks of Black Metal. It really complements the droning feel of the fast and intense passages and it almost borders on more Atmospheric styles.

I feel like this is one of those albums that is simply so good, I am just sort of lost for words discussing it. It's one of those situations where I would say "shut up! Stop asking about it and go listen already!" So that's what I'm going to do... go listen to this now.

Hate Forest - To Those Who Came Before Us
Night Birds Records, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1.To Those Who Came Before Us
Blood and Fire:
2. Aryosophia
3. Nietzscheism
4. Black God
5. Burning Churches

After releasing and re-releasing all kinds of material in 2001 we finally made it to 2002 and Hate Forest have brought us something new. Well sort of... For some reason they thought they needed to re-release "Blood and Fire" and "Ritual" once again. I really don't understand the point of this anymore. However, I still needed to get this tape because it features a brand new Hate Forest track! This is a cassette only release with a pro-printed cover and stickers on the cassette itself. I'm sure it's limited to some amount, but no limitation is mentioned anywhere.

Since their prior releases have been spotty on whether or not Black Metal would be performed I wasn't sure what to expect. Well luckily the track is actually a Black Metal song and, as if, to make up for the non-Black Metal stuff this song clocks in at over eleven minutes in length. It's a truly beautiful track, the unfortunate part is that the first song sounds damaged. I've actually met someone who also had a copy of this tape and theirs had the same problem, so maybe it's not just my tape. Despite this marred intro the song eventually evens out and we are swiftly immersed in a beautiful melancholic atmosphere. The production isn't as high as the full-length, but the drums are far more organic and this is a truly wonderful thing for Hate Forest. This new track actually makes this tape absolutely worth hearing and it really proves that Hate Forest still have that cold Black Metal atmosphere brooding within them! I just wish they would consistently release that kind of material rather than deviating off into wind samples or other weird things. If you can find a good copy of this tape it's probably worth picking up. At least the "Blood and Fire" section nicely complements the new song quite well.

Hate Forest - Blood and Fire/Ritual
Red Stream, 2001
Genre: Black Metal/Non-Music

Blood and Fire:
1. Aryosophia
2. Nietzscheism
3. Black God
4. Burning Churches

It's interesting to see this compilation hit so soon after the release of the original vinyl. I also find it a little strange to see that "Darkness" EP is not included in this CD release of the other two 7" vinyls. Along with having these two out of prints EP's it also includes the original artwork, which is a really nice deal.

Naturally the real draw for purchasing this is the "Blood and Fire" EP, since "Ritual" is kind of a waste of space musically to me. I honestly do appreciate finally being able to hear these on CD, which is honestly the only reason to get this. I ended up hunting down the original vinyl after I had bought this CD, but for those who couldn't get the original check out this release. At least half of it is quite amazing.

Hate Forest - The Gates
Self-Released, 2001
Genre: Sounds

1. Where the Flame is Eternal
2. In Cold Empty Darkness

After an incredible debut album Hate Forest return with an EP length release with only two songs. I own the CD edition published in 2003 by Miriquidi Productions/City of the Dead. Like "The Most Ancient Ones" the booklet is just pictures. This is fine because they are, at least, beautiful pictures of landscapes and there is one that is a picture of space. Looking at these aesthetics seems like this release would be interesting, but that was not to be the case.

Despite there only being two songs I was excited to see they were at least of epic length.  The first track is nearly twenty minutes and the second is about thirteen. My excitement swiftly turned to dismay when I realized I was listening to minute after minute of wind blowing outside and a roaring fire. I feel like Hate Forest is taking a feather out of Paysage d'Hiver's hat, who also has quite the affinity for wind. I guess you could argue that Hate Forest is truly advancing this silly style by also including the roaring fire element. Clearly this is the next evolution for your own personal outside simulator. For a little while this was okay, but after ten minutes it starts to get frustrating.  I mean if I want to listen to a roaring fire in some windy plain I'll go camping. I don't need Hate Forest to simulate this experience for me. I guess if an emergency arises where you suddenly need to generate a proper camping atmosphere this album comes is handy in a pinch. Either way, I feel like this is just a throw away track by the time it ends... so much for "Where the Flame is Eternal". The second track feels a little more promising, it has a great Black Metal riff and eventually the drums kick in. The nature of Hate Forest's style lend to this track working out quite well. This track also has no vocals and since it is just an instrumental it does start to drone on a bit too much. The real problem is in the fact that the riff never changes. It's a great riff, but the instrumental nature would have been more interesting if there was some variation. To really put the nail in the coffin of boring the only metal track ends about after nine minutes then we hear thumping for another four. Seriously, thumping... probably a heartbeat. For four minutes... I'm surprised the recorder didn't die from boredom.

Hate Forest really should stick with what they know and are good at. To make matters more strange apparently Elegy re-released this and put out a Remastered version. How the hell do you remaster wind? I don't even know what to think about this... does it increase the experience? Whatever may be the case don't enter these gates, they're boring. If you want a camping experience, go outside and go camping. It will probably be more satisfying anyway.

Hate Forest - The Most Ancient Ones
Supernal Music, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. To the Thickets and Swamps
2. The Most Ancient Ones
3. Inmost Winter
4. Black Forest
5. The Elders
6. Darkness
7. The Night of Winter Solstice
8. The Curse

It has finally arrived, Hate Forests debut full-length and it is pretty much everything I wanted it to be. I was a little worried after hearing the tracks on "Ritual" that this band would have a short stint with Black Metal, but that clearly is not the case. "The Most Ancient Ones" draws all of its material from "The Curse", which was arguably a far superior demo to "Scythia". Like the "Scythia" CD release "The Most Ancient Ones" has a beautiful booklet featuring wonderful pictures of landscapes and forests. Each frame merely lists the track titles name associated with a picture.

If you were curious as to what "The Curse" would sound like with studio treatment "The Most Ancient Ones" delivers the answer to that question. Things have been cleaned up a lot and some of the majestic passages that were sort of lost to the harsh recording quality shine through here making this a far more special listen. The only complaint one could have is that the pace of the songs are a bit slower than the originals on "The Curse". I do wish they were faster, because it made "The Curse" have this really intensely paced yet droning atmosphere that was really unique. "The Most Ancient Ones" does basically achieve the same goal, but with the studio production things are quite a bit different. This is actually most closely related to the material first featured on "Blood and Fire". While "Blood and Fire" might have better compositions, I do understand that the band would want to put effort into re-recording the demo that had material they felt was worth hearing in a cleaner light. Hate Forest isn't the type of band whose recordings necessarily gain from harsh production values, because with the cleaner production we hear more of the chord structure and leads that make Hate Forest's music far more interesting. Just listen to the riffs in "Darkness" and they really bring that song into a new light for me.

The other aspect that makes Hate Forest interesting is how thick and dense their music comes across. There really aren't any other bands producing music in this way. The guitar tone is extremely thick which ends up building a wall of sound that the listener just gets buried in. As you move through the tracks you get lost in this thick fog and it just lulls you into the melancholy of the invariant riffing. It's a truly wonderful experience if you can sit and immerse yourself in it. I think this is the experience that was meant to be had by Hate Forest when the project was initially conceived, but demo quality, as it is, really prevented from letting this entrancing quality shine through. The vocal are still predominantly of the low variety, and people can complain about them fitting or not. At times they do not, but there are tracks where some verses use a mid-range styled vocal approach and those fit far better. I do wish they would do more of that, but switching up the vocal performance to be a little more dynamic makes this a bit of a better listen.

I am very excited about this project and I love hearing the songs recast in the studio. Hopefully, new material is imminent and we don't just get a re-recording of a demo. We'll see where things take us, but for now I'll be watching for new Hate Forest material. This is a spectacular debut and I highly recommend checking this band out.

Hate Forest - Ritual
Miriquidi Productions/City of the Dead, 2002
Genre: Ambient/Experimental?

1. Black God
2. Burning Churches

Hate Forest have returned with yet another EP... hopefully a full length album is imminent and hopefully it's nothing like "Ritual". For this release Hate Forest is back to working with Miriquidi and I feel like Miriquidi is sort of getting short changed here, because Sombre got all the really killer songs. This 7" is limited to 222 hand-numbered copies and I own #28.

After "Blood and Fire" I was expecting some really wonderful Black Metal since the two songs were new... however, putting on the song "Black God" I got something vastly different. One thing I liked about Hate Forest was their ability to create these epic and beautiful soundscapes, so imagine my surprise when "Black God" ended up being six minutes of nature sounds and some random spoken word towards the end. Well that certainly went nowhere fast. Side B was titled "Burning Churches" so maybe this would be some great Black Metal. The track opens with a very promising sound... roaring fire. I got my hopes up for a truly intense Black Metal barrage... but then when you hear the strumming guitar, no drums ever appear. No vocals. Just a harsh recording of someone tooling around on a guitar, playing the same annoying twangy thing for four minutes. The real game changing part in "Burning Churches" is that about three minutes in a bell starts to toll! For a whole minute until the song ends...

I have no idea what this is, except a waste of money. I am kind of shocked that Miriquidi agreed to press this at all. Well... in the years to come this is probably only for truly die-hard collectors of Hate Forest material. I do hope this is not an indicator of how "experimental" their music will become in the future, especially after I heard how strong their Black Metal writing can be on "Blood and Fire". Please make more of that...

I'm not even going to bother linking a sample below.

Hate Forest - Blood and Fire
Sombre Records, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. Aryosophia
2. Nietzscheism

Here we go, this is what I've been waiting for since I heard the recording of "The Curse", new music from Hate Forest. It sounds like we have a real proper studio recording of the songs now as well and to share this with the world they've released a 7" vinyl with the might Sombre Records limited to 500 copies.

Musically this new material is extremely spectacular. I was instantly entranced when "Aryosophia" started pouring out of my speakers. In some respects I still think the deep vocals don't mesh as well with this style of Black Metal, but they've come a very long way since the days of "Scythia". On here they feel far more well produced, albeit they are probably a little high in the mix. I sort of want the wall of entrancing sound that is Hate Forest to dominate and the vocals to take a back seat. The guitar lines are a lot more atmospheric and melancholic, which creates a really incredible atmosphere for the listener to get lost in. "Nietzscheism" hits a little harder and has a more vicious feel, but it still has some of that entrancing droning styled riffing I've come to love as a staple to the Hate Forest sound. The vocals are extremely sparse in this track and they really let the guitar be the focal point for this song. It really winds up having quite the mesmerizing effect.

"Blood and Fire" is really where Hate Forest has grabbed my attention as a must hear band. They are definitely on to something with the way they're approaching music and I really want to experience more of this kind of material. I feel like they could eventually produce some extremely special music in the near future.

Hate Forest - Darkness
Miriquidi Productions/City of the Dead, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

1. Scythia
2. Shining Abyss

Hate Forest have finally made it to getting their music pressed on vinyl. While Nawia Productions has some great releases they aren't followed to the same caliber as a label like Miriquidi. The production of Hate Forest is going to being ramping up as we move out of their demo days. This is the first 7" vinyl and it's limited to 300 hand-numbered copies of which I own #59. It comes with a small folded insert giving the date of when the tracks were recorded and the numbering.

In same ways this 7" has it's level of disappointment. The main reason I have the issue is because they haven't released new tracks. In fact both tracks are simply taken from the "Scythia" demo and they are not re-recorded or anything. So we still have that strange original vocal tone that is reminiscent of Nazxul's "Totem" album. The music is much more straight forward Black Metal than we heard on "The Curse", which is where Hate Forest really started to change their sound a lot. In the end, though, I am happy to see Hate Forest getting more deserved exposure out there and having a release on Miriquidi Productions will help the band get noticed a lot faster.

"Darkness" is definitely a collectors item, especially if you already own the original "Scythia" demo. However, now we get to have it on a cool 7" vinyl press... I just really wish these were re-recorded or something to make this a little more special. Anyway, hopefully the release of this is a sign that there will be a lot more to come in the very near future!

Hate Forest - The Curse
Kolovrat Production/Nawia Productions, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

1. Inmost Winter
2. To the Thickets and Swamps
3. Black Forest
4. The Most Ancient Ones
5. The Elders
6. Darkness
7. The Night of Winter Solstice
8. The Curse

Here we have the second demo tape from Hate Forest. It's a simple tape without much of a "booklet". The cover is double sided and merely features the track listing for the most part. This is the only tape that wasn't re-released in the same sense that "Scythia" was. This version never really saw a standalone repress on CD, however, where these tracks wound up was on Hate Forest's debut album "The Most Ancient Ones". All the songs were re-recorded in studio there, so "The Curse" is actually a little different. The production is far more raw and fills that old demo void you can't get on full studio recordings.

The material on this tape isn't too different from what you'd hear from "Scythia". I think some of the riffing stands out a little more with songs like "Black Forest" which has passages that really grab your attention and make you want more. With music this well written and interesting it was only a matter of time before Hate Forest would find their way to a larger market. So, after "The Curse" they began to easily make a name for themselves in the underground. It's really interesting to look back on this and think that fourteen years from now Roman Saenko would be one of the more high profile musicians in the metal underground! "The Curse" really has that signature approach that I think Hate Forest would eventually become more known for. Hate Forest has this sort of wall of sound effect, where the music is fairly similar all the time, so it can really drone on, but this is in a good way for me. I really love getting lost in their atmosphere and they just built this wall of intensity that somehow lulls you into their approach to Black Metal. Like "Scythia" the vocals have far more of a Death Metal range, which is pretty strange for Black Metal, but there is no mistaking the guitar work for anything but Black Metal.

This demo was eventually re-released in 2010 on vinyl with the bonus track "Cold of the Grave". This is an unreleased demo version of the song. The new 12" vinyl also features a different cover and is limited to 400 copies. I believe the recording has undergone some re-mastering and it really sounds much better than the original demo tape. Unfortunately, this is one of the least available recordings from Hate Forest, so if you happen to see a copy of this I do recommend getting a hold of "The Curse" in whatever format you can find. Definitely a must for Hate Forest fans to hear.

In the end I think Hate Forest is heading in a real solid direction. They really are creating a different feel for Black Metal, which is really adding something rather unique to the scene. I really couldn't wait to hear what they would be putting together in a studio!

Hate Forest - Scythia
Beverina Productions, 1999
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Unity
2. Scythia
3. Forgotten Voice of Black Perun
4. Shining Abyss
5. Forest of Nevres
6. Attila
7. Herros

This is a band I had originally neglected to get solely because of their name.  Honestly, I thought this would be another ultra generic Black Metal release based on the rather ludicrous name behind the project. However, it’s nice to see that I was only half wrong about this band.  Their name is still stupid, but the music behind the name is actually quite enthralling.  The name is probably the result of someone who doesn't speak English as a first language and this probably translates to something much cooler in Ukrainian.

Hate Forest enters onto the Black Metal scene with “Scythia” a decently good demo for an album recorded
in 1999.  I'm not sure what the limitation of the cassette is, but it is hand numbered and I own copy #313. During 1999 it was also released on tape by Pussy God Records with a different cover. "Scythia" was later released by Supernal Music in 2004 with the bonus track "To Those Who Came Before Us" and the cover featured on the Pussy God Records version.  Normally with first releasing a Black Metal album things can get a bit on the harsh side and Hate Forest is no exception to this seemingly constant rule.  There are of course many things the band could have done better, but then again I can’t seem to get a definitive answer as to whether or not this is actually a solo project or a full band.  They do indeed play shows, but only one man is typically credited with the work.  So, I’m going to treat the reviews of Hate Forest as if it was a solo project henceforth.

"Scythia" opens with the howling of wolves, something no Black Metal band can go wrong by doing really. The music as a whole delivers a minimalist Black Metal approach with some fairly droning passages. So basically if you enjoy your music to sound somewhat hypnotic without too much variation then Hate Forest is the type of music you are precisely looking for. It’s by no means a very in depth composition where every time you listen to it you hear something slightly new. Despite, what many would consider a lacking, they are strengths for Hate Forest, few people could compose like this and retain the listener’s attention, but Hate Forest accomplishes this facet quite well.  The guitar work is typically quite harsh.  Rhythmically the music is great, but don’t expect for Hate Forest to go into a driving rhythm at any point in time, rather you can expect a solid guitar performance with some well played sections. There are extremely interesting guitar patterns on some chorus sections such as in “Forest of Nevres,” but predominantly the song is simplistic music played at a fast pace.

The major aspect I didn’t overly enjoy about this release is the vocals.  Saenko seems to have opted to sing through a processor of some sort. Honestly this takes away from his music which has a very naturalistic feel.  It sounds like he was attempting to go with some sort of a Nazxul tone that they had on “Totem,” but alas, Saenko doesn’t achieve the sinister nature they do. I personally think this is because he didn’t do the extensive layering their vocalist did.  It doesn’t, by any means, kill the music entirely for me, but I do find it lacking in the respects of a truly flowing vocal performance.  It does give a very different feel to the music though since most bands who play like this don’t sound anything like this.  Not that there are many bands out there that can sound like Hate Forest mind you.  For example, though, take the song “Attila,” you can hear the attempt to get a Nazxul feel behind the music.  Even the guitar lines sound somewhat like the song “Totem.”  I think Hate Forest should try to progress out of this small damning aspect of their music and go for a more natural approach to the vocals.

The booklet on the original demo is basically non-existent, but on the re-release it is much nicer..  Not to mention the newer Hate Forest track featured on a re-release collection of their Ep’s. "Those Who Came Before Us." Which is simply a magnificent and awe inspiring song, not to mention quite epic in length.  The lyrics are printed in the booklet, but they are in Runic Ukrainian, so for the stupid Americans, such as myself, the album is basically incomprehensible. Needless to say you won’t be getting any sort of a lyrical interpretation from me, though I would honestly be interested in reading the translated works.  Judging by the images and song titles, it would seem Hate Forest focus conceptually on war and ancient times.  Though I would like to see a broader picture behind their music, this is all I can get out of it thus far.

Overall this is a pretty good album, just some spotty points here and there where I, as a composer, would have taken a slightly different route.  This by no means kills the album as I said before, but the listener will find themselves relishing in Hate Forest's strengths and will no doubt fall in love with the overall approach Hate Forest has decided to take.  I honestly don't see how any Black Metal fan out there couldn’t get into this band.  especially since I know, now that I'm reviewing this long after they established a good career, that they progress for all the better and their albums continue to get more superb with every release.

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