The Project Hate MCMXCIX — Deadmarch: Initiation Of Blasphemy
In spite of the release date, this is the first effort to be recorded by the group that would go on to become The Project Hate MCMXCIX. Recorded in 1998, under the group name "Deadmarch," this album was not formally released for another 11 years. For fans of rarities, B-sides, and unreleased material, this is exactly the sort of release that we live for. The Project Hate has undergone a lot of changes over the years, so looking back almost a decade-and-a-half is quite the interesting journey. One of the hallmarks of the The Project Hate has been the exceptional attention to detail in the recording and writing process, making Initiation Of Blasphemy — in all its rustic, compromised glory — and intriguing prospect.
Immediately, a few issues with this album stick out; the lead death metal vocals featured on Initiation Of Blasphemy are, to be blunt, very pedestrian — a stark contrast to the commanding roar of Jörgen Sandström. Additionally, the album is lacking the massive guitar presence that truly defines the Project Hate sound. Like the first 4 full-length Project Hate albums, the drums are programmed but without the nuanced, nearly-human-sounding production. The keyboards and strings are present, but also feel more minimalistic compared to detail and layering of later efforts. At some point, I believe prior to the recording of Hate, Dominate, Congregate, Eliminate, there were plans to have Jörgen re-record the lead vocals, but the loss of the master tapes scotched that notion. That was a shame, but Initiation To Blasphemy is still very listenable in its own right — production warts and all — but the lead vocals really degrade the material.
Easily the worst release in the band's discography, Initiation Of Blasphemy still warrants a look. There are riffs, lyrics and arrangements in the material that show up on later Project Hate records, and hearing them in the primordial form is quite the trip. Looking past the the barely competent male vocals, the remainder of the album is actually very good; the downtuned, groovy riffs interwined with strings and pianos sound very familiar. Mia Ståhl turned in a great performance performance, and Jörgen Sanström does appear on the album even though he was not a full-fledged member of the band at the time. ("Blodstained" went on to become "Burn" on HDCE and featured Jörgen trading verses with Dark Funeral's Magnus Calligula.) Marred by personnel issues as well as technical difficulties during the recording process, Initiation Of Blasphemy is a diamond in the rough, a glimpse at the artistic vision that Kenth Philipson would refine and evolve over the decade-plus to follow.
Speaking as a borderline obsessive completist when it comes to bands I like, Initiation Of Blasphemy is exactly the sort of stuff I crave. As a fan of The Project Hate MCMXCIX almost since their inception, this was a must-have release for me. The recordings were originally posted online, after the master tapes were lost. I still felt compelled to pick up the physical version, but those seem difficult to locate these days. The humble beginnings of The Project Hate and its unique blend of extreme metal and electronic music genres make for a strong release, albeit one with obvious flaws. Still, it's an enjoyable collection of music that helps one appreciate the ever-increasing level of detail and sophistication in the project's later releases.
I never thought this would actually get released; I remember when the discovery was made, about a decade ago, that the master tapes had been lost by the original engineer, Tomas Skogsberg. An unfortunate circumstance which ultimately lead to the recording of Hate, Dominate, Congregate, Eliminate, my personal favourite album in the band's entire catalogue. The retail release of Initiation Of Blasphemy was a nice surprise, though these days it will probably cost you a ridiculous amount via Amazon or eBay. By no means is this a must-have release, but it's a very informative set of recordings for those who explore the rest of the discography.
Release date: November 30th, 2009
Originally recorded: 1998
Record label: Vic Records
Mikael Öberg — vocals
Mia Ståhl — vocals
Kenth Philipson — guitars, bass, keyboards, programming
Jörgen Sandström — backing vocals
- Angels Mislead
- Sear The Son
- The Crucified Starts To Reek
- So I Mourn
- Divinity Erased
Published: April 30th, 2013