Before getting into the music, I want to dissect this album title a bit. The first part of the title is not a declarative statement, like “the apocalypse is bleeding”; it is an active phrase, a threat. The Project Hate MCMXCIX attempt to position themselves as the edge upon which the world will cut itself and bleed out. The second part of the (very long) title is equally telling. The phrase roughly translates as “to be victorious by the strength of your armed hands.” This is a challenge and a promise; Project Hate are determined to achieve victory by their own strength, with their own weapons.
It’s fitting that the band should come to this album throwing down gauntlets and blaring horns in challenge. Project Hate have gone through significant upheaval, in the form of line-up changes between this and the last album (The Lustrate Process), replacing their female vocalist, bassist and drummer. They’ve met these challenges and are coming forward with fists raised, determined to prove they haven’t lost any of their fight.
And they have chosen their weapons carefully. One of the best things about this album is new female vocalist Ruby Roque (Witchbreed). Her voice doesn’t have the shattered, operatic, soprano quality that taints so much symphonic metal; it is strong, solid, lithe and elegant. Her voice is actually more enjoyable than the music she’s singing over, at times, as one of the problems with album is the way the melodies tend to wander and fragment. Her muscular voice is complemented beautifully by Jörgen Sandström’s harsh vocals. The pair of singers behave like sparring partners, treating their voices like fists.
The sound on the album is solidly enjoyable — this is death metal that tries to be listenable, in the way a good workout can be fun even when it’s brutally hard. There are gothic, industrial and groovy notes flavouring the music; I like the way these other genres tint the sound, but prefer the tracks that focus on a clearer death metal atheistic, like They Shall All Be Witnesses. When Project Hate stick to death metal, the pedigree of the musicians comes to the forefront; the riffs have a great throatiness to them, like the roar of a chainsaw — part moan, part merciless machine.
This is not a perfect album — the primary issue is length. The shortest song clocks in at nearly nine minutes, with four of the six tracks well over the ten-minute mark. For a record that wanders melodically and revels in its complexity, there is simply too much to fully digest. This more-is-more approach also affects the quality of the music.
There are some novels that would have benefited immensely from a heavy-bladed editor. Likewise, this album would have been better had someone not just delicately trimmed the edges, but hacked off whole supernumerary limbs. But if you can control your doses, there is pleasure to be had in this apocalypse.
Written by Natalie Zina Walschots