The Rickety Old Shack

The Project Hate MCMXCIX — Killing Helsinki

The Project Hate MCMXCIX - Killing Helsinki, cover

Although the band had never played live before, operating exclusively as a studio project, in 2002 The Project Hate played their only show — with the more-or-less 'original' band line-up. As can be discerned from the name of the album, Killing Helsinki was recorded in Finland. The album features three songs from both When We Are Done, Your Flesh Will Be Ours and CyberSonic SuperChrist respectively, as well as the original Project Hate demo tracks recorded in 1998.

Live albums are always a mixed bag, as they are most often re-touched in the studio, or fail to capture the energy and overall vibe of the actual live performance. It's not that good live albums do not exist, but their numbers are vanishly small. For every good live album, there are probably 10 subpar efforts, or an obvious attempts at fulfilling a recording contract. Killing Helsinki manages to strike a good balance between those extremes, as the recordings are definitely genuine, there are some unfortunate technical issues present, but the end result is still enjoyable.

The problems with Killing Helsinki are few, but noticeable. Most obvious is when death metal vocalist Jörgen Sandström's mic cuts out a few times, and Mia Staåhl sounds very reserved and uninspired. Given the intensity of everyone else's performance, in contrast to Ms. Ståhl's, it's not a surprise that this would be her last appearance with The Project Hate. Conversely, and to Jörgen's credit, you can still hear him despite the fact there are two heavily downtuned guitars, a DAT tape, and bass guitar all amplified at high levels. Mr. Sandström is an incredibly powerful vocalist, and seeing him smoking cigarettes between verses was mind-blowing. (There was live video from the show, I did not travel to Finland.)

Musically, the band steps up and delivers a great reproduction of their studio work; impressive, considering the length of the songs and complexity of their arrangements. Audio issues aside, Killing Helsinki did a lot to shore-up my belief in the band's musical chops — proving that the studio is another instrument, rather than a crutch where sloppy playing is edited and fixed. The Project Hate still sounded like themselves — groovy as Hell, with a massive, thick tone — even if the group's recorded material benefits greatly from deeply layered mixing and multi-tracking.

Included with the 6 live tracks are all 3 songs from the group's 1998 demo, recorded without Mia Staåhl providing the contrasting clean vocals to Mr. Sandström's savage death growls. Instead, the demo tracks feature LG Petrov (Entombed) doing backing vocals, and Dan Swanö (Bloodbath, Edge of Sanity) doing clean vocals in her place. The demos are very raw, but still sound very much like the cut which appeared on CyberSonic SuperChrist. As a mildly obsessive collector, Killing Helsinki scratches two itches: live tracks and old demos.

Which brings me to my final assessment of Killing Helsinki, and that is the reality that it's not required listening by any means. At the time, it was a nice batch of material to hold a fan over until the next studio album dropped. At this point, a decade later, it's very difficult to locate for sale — and outrageously priced in all instances I found. The strength of The Project Hate's studio discography is so high, there is no real need to track down some above-average live recordings from ye olde days.

Summary

A serviceable live recording, but definitely the 'weakest' effort in the otherwise spotless discography of The Project Hate. At this juncture, Killing Helsinki is more of a collector's piece — fodder for completists — than anything I would suggest you go out and purchase. The band acquits itself well in the live recordings, and the 1998 demo has a distinct sound of it's own, and hearing Dan Swanö singing cleanly is something I quite enjoy.

Album Information

Release date: April 12th, 2003
Record label: Threeman Recordings

Jöorgen Sandström — vocals
Mia Staåhl — vocals
Kenth Philipson — guitar
Peter S. Freed — guitar
Magnus Johanson — backing vocals
Morgan Lundin — backing vocals
L.G. Petrov — backing vocals (bonus demo tracks only)

Track Listing

  1. I Smell Like Jesus... Dead! (Live)
  2. Forsaken By The Naked Light Of Day (Live)
  3. Can't Wait (Live)
  4. The Divine Burning Of Angels (Live)
  5. Christianity Delete (Live)
  6. With Desperate Hands So Numb (Live)
  7. With Desperate Hands So Numb (1998 Demo)
  8. Selfconstructive Once Again (1998 Demo)
  9. Oceans Of Seemingly Endless Bleeding (1998 Demo)

—by Derek

Published: April 30th, 2013