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Hate Forest – Innermost

I did not expect Hate Forest to release a new album so soon after Hour of the Centaur. Upon closer inspection, their latest full-length, Innermost, was recorded at the end of 2021, just two months before war broke out between Russia and Ukraine. When I saw the cover art, I was reminded of the Blazebirth Hall, for most of their albums featured painted covers depicting howling snowstorms. I just thought that was a nice touch.

I immediately noticed that the production was a bit more abrasive than it was in the past. The slightly cloudy atmosphere has been replaced with a storm of razors. Other than that, the formula is unchanged. Consistency is one of the band’s strongest points. The drums still play blast beats that sound like the rapid stamping hooves of Scythian armies. They are almost constant, but they never get repetitive. Sometimes they throw in some mid-paced rhythms, which are still full of double bass that make the music feel more invigorating.

It has been over twenty years and Roman’s vocal abilities have not waned in the slightest. His growls are still beastly and ferocious. His echoing raspy vocals still sound vicious, hateful, and spiteful. The guitars are still the best part. The tremolo riffs express a wide range of emotions, from the triumphant stampedes of “Those Who Howl Inside the Snowstorm” to the chilling touch of “Ice-Cold Bloodless Veins” to the subtle dark melodies of “Temple of the Great Eternal Night”. There are also some calmer moments that feature acoustic guitars.

Once again, Hate Forest has released an amazing album. It’s not as incredible as Hour of the Centaur, but the instrumental work, vocals, and songwriting are still superb. The aggressive yet melodic songs reinforce Roman Saenko’s status as a master musician. Last I heard, he’s focusing on his other project Drudkh. I wish him well on any future endeavors.