Hate Forest - Purity
Supernal Music
Black Metal
7 songs (44:33)
Release year: 2003
Supernal Music
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Come, enter the time machine, as we activate the portal and travel back countless years to... 2003. A time when the Ukrainian Black Metal machine that is Drudkh had yet to make an impact on the hearts and minds of fans across the world, when Anaal Nathrakh were undiscovered, Arch Enemy were just beginning to become popular, and everyone loved Children Of Bodom. Yet over in the underground, something big, black and deep was stirring... the UK’s much-loved Supernal Recordings released the second album from politically dodgy Ukrainians Hate Forest and worldwide fans shuddered slightly, that Black Metal butterfly beating its wings and stirring far more than a mere rumble deep in the earth.

In fact, for the first few listens it’s hard to hear anything other than a Bolt Thrower-esque torrent of intensity, the seven “songs” reverberating like the mythic shot heard around the world. Mainstream Metalheads, those Power Metal fans for whom Iced Earth can get a bit heavy at times, will run screaming – it can indeed seem like pure intense rage, distilled to a single drop and shot at lightspeed through your skull. Where Hate Forest seem to step beyond this earthly plane of existence is in their ability to go beyond extremity, to take ‘mere’ blasting and make it into something ambient and transcendental, akin to Burzum – incredibly, the drums are programmed on this album, making it one of the few Metal releases that can use electronic percussion as an asset rather than a hindrance; I honestly didn’t know that Hate Forest didn’t use a human drummer here until I was told, so skilfully is it done. All the instruments are fused together but somehow remain separate, even the bass audible at the bottom of the band’s already deep sound, and it’s this unity that flows through Hate Forest’s blood and makes for such an incredible outcome.

There’s little difference between the songs, but somehow when placed next to each other they form a wonderful unity. Eleven minutes long is The Gates, but it’s utterly hypnotic due to the subtle prog-ridden melodies that writhe and twist throughout, a strange counterpoint to the trance-inducing blasts of its predecessors. The guitars are the main reason that Purity has such a weirdly psychedelic feel, as they seemingly riff at such high speeds that human ears can hear nothing but a strange pulse, a deceptively simple rise and fall that steps into ambientville and tugs insistently at your arm whilst you still stand hesitantly in the wind tunnel of heaviness – by the time that The Immortal Ones roll around you’ve gathered your strength, stepped through the door, and are marvelling at a plane of existence quite unlike your own, the latter half of the album leaving pure blasting aside as it searches for something purer to cling to, some pathway that leads beyond the sheer terrifying physicality of our mortal world.

I’ve managed to avoid mentioning the vocals because, to be frank, they’re terrifying. If ever there was a piece of music to space out to whilst imbibing illegal substances, this is it – Roman Saenko’s deep, deep growl a voice from the depths of the earth, from nature itself, that summons your attention and calls to mind the ancient ones referenced here. The timeless voice of the hyperborean outerworld is speaking directly to you, mortal, how will you respond? Once the album is finished and you’ve sat up, dusted yourself off and realised exactly the extent that Hate Forest have seized your mind, the temptation to get rid of this foul darkness is intense. Yet you don’t, and the time comes when Purity goes on the player again. And again, and again, the intense magnetism of Hate Forest’s sound pulling you back over and over – this is the best place to start in their discography, Drudkh’s big bad brother reducing the melody yet keeping a stranglehold on that strange otherworldliness, the sense that you are experiencing something other people will never know.

Whatever you think of the politics of said Ukrainian scene, you have to admit that there’s a certain primeval darkness that’s channelled, especially by Hate Forest, that makes for a difficult decision. Like your first time taking mind-altering drugs, listening to Hate Forest is a fundamental choice, one that may end up happily or in some very weird territory indeed. You could choose not to experience it, but then life’s rich tapestry would be incomplete, and if we’re not on this planet to push the boundaries then what point is there in staying within them? Purity presents a perfect introduction to the Ukrainian Black Metal psychedelic experience, the aural peyote that will only activate for a few and is just a bad trip for the rest – a solitary walk into the terrifying malevolence of the ancient forest that you may never return from, whether intentionally or otherwise...

Killing Songs :
Domination, Elder Race, The Gates, The Immortal Ones, Desert Of Ice
Goat quoted 90 / 100
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