Blake Judd (Nachtmystium) began his Hate Meditation project in 2003, intending it to pay homage to black/death Metal bands like Beherit, Von, Profanatica and Blasphemy, but it has been dormant since the recording of the limited release, three track demo 'Condemned To Death'.
Having only heard rumours of that EP I was pretty excited to hear he had reactivated the project and that debut release, 'Scars' was in imminent danger of gracing my ears. The sound has somewhat changed from what was originally intended, drawing influences from many different genres of music, instead, raw gritty black Metal in a much purer form at the core, is what 'Scars' is all about.
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Opening on 'Prelude To Apocalypse', a dark and haunting instrumental intro of just under two minutes before 'The Deceiver And The Believer' rips into you, a massive chunk of classic styled black Metal, dirty, distorted, dangerous and haunting, an epic track that ticks all the boxes for me, epitomising all those great elements of black Metal. Across this lengthy track faster, dirtier, segments are broken by slower, more plodding segments and completed by deathly haunting vocals.
'Impure Rage' is dirty, malevolent and magnificent, with the vocals taking a stronger more venomous feel than the previous track.
'End Times 'is another longer track and another one that has been skilfully partitioned into faster and slower segments to maintain your interest, becoming very distant, dirty and distorted in its final closing minutes.
A blood curdling opening scream takes you by surprise on 'The Genocide March' before becoming a dark, dirty and sinister track with almost hypnotic qualities. Barely has the opening cymbal finished crashing before the evil hiss of the vocals are in your face on 'Wrath And Revenge', an intense, fast paced and exciting track with a great repeat riff that jangles away in the background amidst intense drums and more crashing cymbals.
Title track 'Scars' is slower paced, with a dark haunting beauty to the guitars, these are excellently offset with some of the most venomous and tortuous vocals I have had the pleasure to hear, an excellent contrast, before melding gently into the noise-scape outro, 'Shadow World'.
There is no denying Blake Judd has talent by the bucket load, from my perspective this is another resounding success from him, I love it. It is old school but with a better production which is still sympathetic to the feel that he is aiming to achieve, so it's not over produced.
When you listen you will hear strong influences from some of the black Metal greats of old. Who? Listen and find out!