'CRUSADE Zero' the ninth album from Polish blackened death metal veterans Hate and their first since the unfortunate death of bassist Slawek "Mortifier" Arkangelsky.
The album consists of eleven tracks, a number of which are short instrumentals. It starts with 'Vox Dei (A Call From Beyond)' which is an eerie effects laden intro that builds up the listeners tension as to what is to follow. Instead of tearing your face off the next track 'Lord Make Me an Instrument of Thy Wrath' is a short instrumental piece. It is heavy, yet melodic and sets the tone for the following fifty minutes.
Most of the songs on this album clock in around the six minute mark and tempos change numerous times during each track from mid paced and grinding to fast and furious death metal. It is refreshing to hear a death metal album that does not rely on speed for speed's sake.
Two tracks that standout on this album are 'Leviathan, which has an almost call and response introduction with the mantra "Abyss born leviathan" being repeated at the start and throughout the song. The song is six and a half minutes of churning death metal, yet surprisingly catchy.
The other track that stands out for praise is Valley of Darkness. Again this song is six minutes of death metal but due to an Arabic/Eastern flavour to the guitar lines it stands out from the rest of the album.
This is an exceptionally well produced album and the playing is top notch throughout. New drummer Pawel "Pavulon" Jaroszewicz plays a blinder throughout and his imaginative rolls and fills really add to the feel of the music and his double bass work could punch holes through walls. At times his drumming has an almost tribal feel to it yet he is not afraid to rely on blast beats when the music calls for it.
Guitarist/Vocalist Adam "ATF Sinner" Buszko and guitarist Konrad "Destroyer" Ramotowski also deserve praise. The vocals are deep and guttural throughout yet come across quite clearly and for the most part the lyrics can be easily enough made out.
The guitars are crisp and cleanly produced. Riffs are often mid paced and this adds to the claustrophobic feel of the album.
Despite being a death metal album through and through the band are not afraid to inject melody where it is required, this is a nice touch and stops the album from being one dimensional. The solos are well structured and melodic.
The song titles let you know exactly where Hate are coming from. Songs such as Dawn of War, Hate is the Law along with the aforementioned Leviathan and Valley of Darkness pour bilious hate and scorn upon organised religion and mankind in general. It would appear that .Poland's strict anti blasphemy laws inspire bands such as Hate rather than put them off.
All in all then Crusade Zero is a top quality blackened death metal album that should appeal to fans of the genre. If you have no interest in blasphemous death metal stay well clear.
Review by Gavin O'Conor