The Project Hate MCMXCIX — There Is No Earth I Will Leave Unscorched
The ninth studio album — and second crowd-funded effort — from long-running Swedish metal merchants, The Project Hate MCMXCIX was released on Christmas Day, 2014. There was no advance warning, making the appearance of There Is No Earth I Shall Leave Unscorched in my inbox quite the holiday gift to receive in the wee hours of the morning. As with all of The Project Hate's albums, there was quite a lot to digest. While the narrative theme of an eternal war between heaven and hell remains the central thesis of the band's albums, each record is densely packed with layer-upon-layer of sound and it takes extensive listening to grasp everything that is happening on these songs. Revisiting There Is No Earth I Will Leave Unscorched was both a jaunt down memory lane and a series of new discoveries.
Coming back to this album 3 years later, I find my opinion of it has changed quite a lot since first hearing it. The most significant change to the group is the departure of Ruby Roque, who provided the lead female vocals on the previous 2 albums. Replacing her is Elinor Asp, and she wields the most impressive range of any previous vocalist The Project Hate have employed. I had just finally gotten used to Ruby's specific style, and now she was gone and I had to adapt to yet another different vocal profile. While the majority of Elinor's verses are in the typical melodic style, she also does a few screams and changes her vocal patterns in many instances throughout the album. I have always appreciated the lack of digital processing and editing on the female vocals on past albums, no matter who occupied the role at the time, and Elinor's voice sounds as raw and human as it gets. There Is No Earth... continues the trend of giving the female leads more time in the spotlight, which makes Elinor's abilities impossible to overlook.
Musically, There Is No Earth I Will Leave Unscorched picks up where the last album, The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda, left off: fusing tonal elements of Meshuggah and Korn into a wholly unique mixture of extreme metal and a dozen other disparate genres and styles. The tracks are as long as ever, with all 6 cuts coming in at just under 80 minutes combined running time. As a long-standing fan of The Project Hate, I don't even bat an eye at this; if you're going to listen to this band, you're going to need a bit of an attention span. None of the songs feel unnecessarily padded or belaboured, but they are very long — which allows for rewarding builds and the creation of palpable atmosphere. This is best evidence by the final track: is a perfect mix of brutality and heavy, haunting melody — closing out with a beautiful guitar solo and vocals that really tug on the heart strings.
The only nitpick I have is that a few the lyrics come off a little awkwardly — a few phrasing and word choices I would change — but there is nothing egregious to be found anywhere on the album. Elinor also gives some of the most chilling vocal performances in The Project Hate's recorded history on this album, specifically in the last few minutes of "You I Smite, Servant Of Light," the middle of "Into The Mouth Of Belial" and the epic end of the final track. The inclusion of larger doses of acoustic guitar really pays off, especially in the closing track. There Is No Earth I Will Leave Unscorched feels like another milestone reached in the ongoing career of metal's best kept secret; jam-packed full of sick grooves, soul-stiring melodies, this record sets a new high watermark for quality in terms of performance and audio production.
This album is the second to be offered in a dynamic, uncompressed mix and it really behooves the listener to take advantage of the option. The physical CD release and the 320kbps MP3s are both very high quality, but the mixing job Dan Swanö does on the FLAC files cannot be understated. Aside from the fact that I hate how the loudness wars have affected how modern records are produced, The Project Hate create music that really does benefit from a dynamic mix that allows room for both extremely high and low frequencies. The Project Hate set another standard for audio production with There Is No Earth I Will Leave Unscorched; despite tuning down what seems like a whole octave, the guitars and bass have a clarity that is unmatched. This is The Project Hate at their very best.
The Project Hate, 15-years into their existence when this album was released, shows no signs of slowing down. The core components of the group's style remain intact if not ever-improving; Jörgen Sandström still provides the best death metal vocals in the game, and Elinor raised the bar significantly in the female vocal department, and Lord K's capacity for infectious, epic riff collections seems endless. Almost 2 decades in, and The Project Hate keeps getting better and better at what they do. The riffs are as crushing and ear-catching as ever, and the melodic sections are the best they have ever been. You could pick any of the group's albums as your starting point, and not end up disappointed — There Is No Earth I Will Leave Unscorched is by no means an exception to this statement.
Release date: December 25th, 2014
Record label: Independent / Mouth Of Belial Productions
Jörgen Sandström — vocals
Elinor Asp — vocals
Kenth Philipson — guitar, bass, keyboards, programming
Dirk Verbeuren — drums
Erik Runqvist — vocals
Lawrence Mackrory — vocals
Richard Sjunnesson — vocals
Ross Dolan — vocals
Lasse Johansson — guitar solos
Henrik Danhage — guitar solos
Mike Wead — guitar solo
- Holy Ground Is Not Safe Anymore
- Behold As I Become The Great Cold Betrayer
- You I Smite, Servant Of Light
- Defy Those Words Of Who Was, Who I, And Who Is To Come
- Into The Mouth Of Belial
- The Gospel Of The Flesh And All His Sins
Published: February 12th, 2018.