Review by Jason Guest
With Nachtmystium on hiatus, not a man to twiddle his thumbs, Blake Judd has returned to Hate Meditation, a band that released the three-track demo Condemned to Death in 2013 (in very limited numbers of course, this is black metal after all) to release their first full length, Scars. Joined by Job Bos on synths (yes, synths), Sam Shroyer on drums, and three bassists (Jef Whitehead on tracks 2, 4, 5 and 6, Scott Judd on track 7, and Wrest – the band’s official bassist – on the rest), Judd has returned to the primeval roots of the dark art.
After the atmospheric swirl and haunting chorus of ‘Prelude To The Apocalypse’, the psychedelic strand of Nachtmystium echoes in the synths that permetate the blackened air of the caustic vocals collide with the charred riffs of ‘The Deceiver And The Believer’. With the synths given a rest, with ‘Impure Rage’ it’s apparent that Scars is far from original. This is a tribute to the raw, primitive, crappily produced spirit of black metal that has come to be known as “kvlt”. Though the performance and the production are much better, this is not a simple update of that era but more a sharper but no less abhorrent rendition of its essence. With the slower ‘End Times’ dragging deep from the pit of despair, a moment of light appearing amid the bleakness, it’s with ‘The Genocide March’ that the savage and pitiless heart of this beast is unleashed. With ire at its zenith, the barbarity continues with ‘Wrath And Revenge’ but it’s the title track that stands out as the crowning glory, it’s near torpid pace and icy air makes for a brooding close.
If you’re expecting – or wanting – more of Nachtmystium or Twilight, forget it. This is black metal, nothing else, and will only serve to disappoint. The progressive and experimental aspects of Judd’s main band have been banished in favour of utter malice. Whatever it is that Judd turns his hand to, what he produces is usually of high quality. This is no different. Hate, disgust and unremitting rancour fuel Scars and its monochrome aesthetic makes for a malevolent meditative experience. How apt.
7.5 out of 10
- Prelude To The Apocalypse (Intro)
- The Deceiver And The Believer
- Impure Rage
- End Times
- The Genocide March
- Wrath And Revenge
- Shadow World (Outro)