A slight tweak yields good results
Though Poland's Hate have been around since 1990 it wasn't until their 2005 album Anaclasis that they popped up on my radar, and I'd hazard a guess that this is the case for a lot of people out there. Actually, in retrospect, they didn't so much pop up on my radar but rather appeared as a bulking monolithic mass upon that tiny little screen.
Overall however, whilst Anaclasis had some great moments, it still left me a little dissatisfied in the end. I eagerly awaited what lay ahead within the confines of their latest album, Morphosis.
For those who missed Hate's last album and are unfamiliar with their sound, they are a death metal act who generally refrain from overly complex riffs and melodies and instead focus most of their attention towards creating simple, catchy and sometimes groovy songs with industrial influences, all backed by hyper fast drumming that usually switches between blasts, double kick work and the odd slower beat here and there.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Morphosis is essentially Anaclasis part two upon your first listen, because in fairness, this assessment isn't too far from the truth; the band hasn't really changed the underlying formula too much from their previous album but has instead tweaked a few key areas. They now have a more melodic approach, a more focussed writing style, and a slightly more industrialised sound. Those three things are truly the only real differences between the two albums. It doesn't sound like a lot on paper, but when they come together they actually make Morphosis a more satisfying listen than its predecessor, however marginally you may feel that to be.
The most important thing from the above list for me is the better focus the band has shown in the crafting of their songs. Even the lesser tracks appear to have a better sense of flow and direction to me than those on Anaclasis. Every song regardless of its length gets straight to the point with little deviation, save for some of the industrial elements here and there that generally enhance the tracks rather than serve as filler.
As for the melody, Hate have done a lot of work here too. Though there is still a lot of what I consider regular death metal fare, there are some truly great moments to be experienced such as the catchy breaks in Catharsis or the recurring down beat melody of Threnody.
One thing that hasn't changed one bit from last time is the album's production, and why would they change it? It is a clean, clear and powerful sound that simply wasn't broken the first time around. I can't think of a single thing that I'd change in this regard.
Hate are one of those bands that I really want to like but always leave me a bit under whelmed. It's not that I dislike their work at all, quite the opposite, but I do find that there is some kind of meatiness missing from them that the musical part of my body cries out for whenever I hear them.
Ultimately it all boils down to a question of whether Morphosis is a good album. The simple answer to this question is yes, but there are caveats. It can be a hell of a lot of fun but it still just doesn't push all the right buttons for me. There is something about the overall experience that I find to be lacking but I'm unable to quantify exactly what that thing is. There is no question though that it is undoubtedly a worthy successor to Anaclasis. Would I buy it? Yes. Yes I would. I guess that's all that matters in the end.
(Listenable Records/Stomp Distribution)