The Project Hate MCMXCIX — Purgatory
In the 20 years since the release of The Project Hate MCMXCIX's debut album, CyberSonic SuperChrist (review), the group has undergone nearly constant changes. The sole constants have been musical mastermind Kenth Phillipson and vocalist Jörgen Sandström, with a host of talented guest guitarists, vocalists, bassists and drummers contributing to the dozen studio albums The Project Hate has to its name. Now, the group's thirteenth album, Purgatory, sees the light of day after a lengthy crowd-funding period.
The opening track, "Kill Everyone," like its title, is direct and to-the-point — as a very brief fade-in gives way to an immediate assault that lets up only sparingly. That patented Project Hate production is on full display, crushing the listener under a massive wall of guitars supported by a rich, dynamic low end. The bass guitar isn't quite as "nu metal" or "djent" sounding as on past efforts, but it retains the clarity and weight I've come to expect over past two decades — the best bass tone in metal. For the purposes of this review, I mainly listened to the dynamic FLAC versions. There are so many different sound elements on these tracks, it's great to get a mix that isn't heavily compressed. Both FLAC and standard MP3s are bundled together.
Pinning The Project Hate down to a specific genre has always been difficult, and this remains as true now as at any other time. The death metal core of the Project Hate sound is as ferocious as ever, as the material transitions effortlessly between melodic builds, blast beat frenzies, razor-sharp guitar solos, chunky grooves, symphonic breaks, electronica interludes and more. The Project Hate formula was, largely, developed a long time ago. Since taking the engineering aspect to the next level on their sophomore record, When We Are Done, Your Flesh Will Be Ours (review), each subsequent release has been a further refinement and improvement — rarely any huge leaps forward, just relentless, steady progress with highly enjoyable results. The production side has kept pace with the ever-increasing complexity of the compositions, allowing the sundry background effects and synths to properly complement the material and highlight the dynamic shifts from one passage to the next.
The line-up on Purgatory is one of the smallest in Project Hate history. The core of the group over the past 6 years has remained solid, and the results have been great. After 26+ years of delivering some of the clearest, most vicious death metal vocals in the game, Jörgen Sandström still sounds phenomenal. On Purgatory, he retains all the passion and intensity long-time listeners have come to expect and sounds terrifying as usual. Likewise, Ellinor Asp has proven herself to be a huge boon to the band's roster, serving as a dual lead vocalist and contributing somber soliloquies, piercing screams, haunting melodies and pure rock leads. Kenth Phillipson's composition and instrumental performances remain impressive as ever, delivering sick grooves reminscent of Meshuggah but still capable of writing leads. On top of all this, Dirk Verburen lends his trademarked drumming skills to the album — as solid a musical foundation as you're going to get — and has energy and enthusiasm that pervades the whole record.
Purgatory is exactly the kind of album anyone would want their favourite band to drop. It features everything I've always enjoyed about The Project Hate spread out over 79 minues of crushing, experimental metal. The electronica breakdown in "Kill Everyone," the strong black metal undertones in "Sacrifice," the nearly-solo female vocals in the back half of "Diatribe Cult," and the demonic exposition — along with the sinister, menacing riff that hangs in the background — on "Birth" are among the many callbacks I noticed on Purgatory. There aren't any sections outright lifted from past albums — or at least not blatantly so — but a few drum parts Dirk was playing were similar to material from the 'drum machine era,' and Ellinor at various times sounded like all of her predecessors. Some things I noticed are probably just staples in the Project Hate arsenal, but Purgatory feels like a nod to the past without being excessive or derivative.
If you're in the market for some lengthy metal tracks, intricately crafted and sonically diverse, Purgatory should not disappoint. Throughout their existence, The Project Hate have always improved from one release to the next and this remains true. Tenured fans should know what they're in for, and this is another strong addition to the collection: a metric ton of quality riffs, infectious grooves and a compelling contrast of styles. For those unfamiliar with one of metal's best kept secrets, Purgatory is a fine entry point into The Project Hate's music.
A twenty-year anniversary done right, Purgatory was worth the wait.
Another quality effort from The Project Hate, Purgatory is everything the band's fans have come to expect: top-tier metal and melody forged into epic compositions of symphonic death metal. Just as its namesake sits between heaven and hell, this album sits between beauty and brutality. The band's whole discgraphy is worthy of your attention, but you may as well start with the freshest material. Purgatory is easily one of the year's most complete metal records — I give it my strongest recommendation.
Release date: April 3rd, 2020
Record label: Mouth Of Belial Productions
Lord K Philipson — guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, keyboards, programming, backing vocals
Jörgen Sandström — vocals
Ellinor Asp — vocals
Dirk Verbeuren — drums
Lasse Johansson — guitar solos
Johan Langquist — additional vocals
Fredrik Folkare — guitar solo
- Kill Everyone
- Diatribe Cult
Published: April 30th, 2020.