The Project Hate MCMXCIX — The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda
The culmination of two years of work, and a crowd-funding experiment, The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda marks the ninth studio album from metal masterminds The Project Hate MCMXCIX. As a long-standing proponent of the band — evidenced by the countless reviews I have written and re-written — I look forward to each release, eagerly wanting to hear the next iteration in the continual evolution of their sound. I'll admit to not having followed the progress updates on the album, and was swamped with work for the last 3-4 months. Then, to my surprise, in the early hours of December 12th, I got an early Christmas present when this album showed up in my inbox.
After listening to the album exclusively for 2 weeks, I can honestly say that The Project Hate have turned in a career defining performance on The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda (TCRA). I've heaped glowing praise on this group for over a decade, and every single word of it is supported by the contents of this album. Never before have so many different musical elements been combined in such an aurally devastating fashion; in every measurable way, TCRA outclasses the band's entire discography and anything else I can think to compare it to.
Speaking strictly in terms of the recording quality, TCRA is mind-blowing, and the mixing and production (handled by Dan Swanö and Kenth Philipson respectively) has to be heard to be believed. Of particular note is the production work on the bass; The Project Hate have always had a very discernible low-end to their albums, but TCRA has thickest, richest bass sound I've ever heard anywhere. The mix is really well done, giving the vast array of instrumentation ample opportunity to shine through with beautiful clarity. I'm at a loss to name a metal album with better production or bass sound. Also, and I cannot overstate this, I would be very careful with your bass settings when playing this album through any sort of 'real' sound system — I knew someone who blew out a subwoofer in their car listening to When We Are Done, Your Flesh Will Be Ours and TCRA has an exponentially more powerful low-end sound to it.
I've typically described The Project Hate's style of music as "symphonic death metal", but that is a woefully vague description of the band's actual sound. The Project Hate has always blended elements of orchestral music with low-tuned guitars, electronic breakdowns and female vocals, and have come a long way in terms of execution. Each successive release since the original Deadmarch recordings have been a progression towards a more dynamic, rich-sounding approximation of my general description of their sound. TCRA delivers the most diverse song writing and instrumentation of the band's career — this truly sounds like an orchestra of the damned.
Since changing the female vocal position on their last album, it's taken me a while to get used to the vastly different delivery style that Ruby Roque brings to the table. Two albums later, I think I finally understand why the group opted to change up the position; Ruby's done an excellent job turning the female vocals into a more lead role, with Jörgen doing an amazing job — as always — in a supporting role. 'Supporting' is not really the right word, as he's quite prominent throughout the album, but the call / response dynamic has changed as now J's vocal lines feel like a response to Ruby's calls. Both main vocalists put in a lot of work, however. Considering the long-running narrative throughout the band's albums, the metaphor of the corrupted angel beginning to usurp the dark lord is not lost on me. Regardless, Ruby — like everyone else on TCRA — steps up her game on this recording and turns in the most dominant female performance in extreme music to date. TCRA is an absolute beast of an album and Ruby sounds right at home lending her beautiful, commanding voice to such powerful musical performances. While part of me will always miss Jo's voice, Ruby has proven her worth beyond all doubt.
Considering the average track length on TCRA — excluding the interludes — is nearly 12 minutes, each song still manages to feel almost too short. I find it hilarious and noteworthy that The Project Hate has a higher density of riffs in single songs than most full albums by other bands. Oh, and you read that correctly — an average song length of ~12 minutes. If you want 3-5 minute, easily digestible tracks then pretty much any other band can fulfill that requirement; aside from never holding themselves to the constraints of verse / chorus / verse formula inherent to most music, The Project Hate has never been friendly to lazy listeners. Those willing to put in the time for repeated listenings — which isn't exactly torture by any definition I'm aware of — will get a lot of value from the fact there is always something new to find in the mix. The fact TCRA purchasers also receive an instrumental copy of the album is such an amazing bonus, as even without vocals the level of detail in the production / mixing truly must be heard to be believed.
Musically, there are so many influences and styles represented it is virtually impossible to note all of them; Kenth Philipson — the main song writer and driving force behind The Project Hate — has always been a master at interweaving various styles into a unique creation and TCRA is no different. You really get the feeling of a seasoned veteran at work when listening to this record, hearing the influence of time spent touring with Dark Funeral, and having collaborated with some of the metal scene's most talented members in Dan Swanö (going all the way back to the Odyssey EP) and Jörgen Sandström, members of Vomitory, and countless others. Since adding the live drums on In Hora Mortis Nostrae, the band has truly taken advantage of the freedom afforded by human drumming and likewise have always found drummers capable of living up to the challenge of playing on such long, complex songs. I can't say I really have a preference for any of the band's drummers, I'm just in awe of the contributions they've all made to the band's albums. Dirk's work on TCRA is absolutely praise-worthy, as he runs a gauntlet of styles from subdued rock-style drums to first-rate blast beats with incredible precision.
Simply speaking as a fan of extreme music in general, TCRA offers up a feast for the ears: there appear to be homages to various different styles and bands littered throughout the album. As a brief example, there a riff at the 5:47 mark of "I Feed You The Flesh Of Your Poisonous Christ" which sounds like a Meshuggah riff only better in the context of the song itself. (I guess the song title would also be an indicator I am not crazy, as Meshuggah do have a song called "New Millennium Cyanide Christ".) Also, when I speak of influences and homages, I don't mean that in the way that the band Jet is "influenced" by AC/DC in that they just steal their song ideas — The Project Hate manages to evoke similarities with other bands and sounds without sounding remotely like they're ripping anything off.
As I said before, this is a band that really rewards attentive listeners, and I am sure there are layered references strewn throughout TCRA that I've yet to discover. In an age of mass consumerism and hit-factory-spawned trash with short a shelf-life, the long-term value of The Project Hate records is as good an inducement as any to actually pay them for their efforts. The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda is the first exclusively digital release from the band and I strongly encourage you to pony up and enjoy the album. If a recording of the magnitude and quality of TCRA is not worth your money then, unless you're just not a fan of the style / sound, then you will never be satisfied.
All-told, TCRA is 78 minutes of extreme heavy metal excellence. The stylistic territory that The Project Hate covers is immense, fusing elements of death / black metal, electronica — with a few brief sections evoking a feeling of dubstep without being garbage — acoustic guitars and a trademarked sense of groove that should make a lot of bands jealous. The Project Hate truly have no peers; there is no easy comparison for their sound without naming dozens of different styles and bands. A fusion of the brutal and the beautiful, The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda is a heavy metal opera
Yet another impressive entry in the band's discography, The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda demonstrates further integration of new vocalist Ruby Roque, and a some of the best audio engineering on a metal record, ever. The Project Hate maintain the 13 year legacy of releasing epic tracks of ever-increasing quality. Symphonic, industrial death metal of the highest order; this album is jam-packed with catchy, crushing riffs and sprawling, lengthy tracks that reward the patient listener. Easily one of the best metal albums of the year. (It's a Project Hate album, what do you expect me to say?!)
Release date: December 12th, 2012
Record label: Independent / Mouth Of Belial Productions
Jörgen Sandström — vocals
Ruby Roque — vocals
Kenth Philipson — guitars, bass, keyboards, programming
Dirk Verburen — drums
Peter Dolving — vocals
Lars Johansson — guitar solos Magnus Söderman — guitar solos
Danny Tunker — guitar solos
Peter S. Freed — guitar solo
Tobben Gustaffson — acoustic guitar
- I Feed You The Flesh Of Your Poisonous Christ
- We Watch In Silence As The Earth Turns To Blood
- Conquering The Throne Of The Cadaverous
- The Great Retaliation Is Upon Them
- Carving Out The Tongues Which Speak Of Salvation
- The Judas Agenda
Published: December 24th, 2012.
Edited: February 5th, 2018.