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Scars

INDIE RECORDINGS May 24th 2013
CD
119 NOK
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Blake Judd has racked up quite the appetizing metal resume over the years, and every new project of his seems to be just as tasty as the last, if not sometimes more so. From his most well-known role as the guitarist/frontman for Nachtmystium, to the all star Twilight band with fellow titans Wrest and Malefic, and even being a guitarist for the psychedelic sludge of Drug Honkey, each group he gets himself involved with ends up delivering in one way or another. Now putting Nachtmystium on a temporary aside (yes, that "they're breaking up" news was bullshit), Blake turns his focus to yet another new endeavor: Hate Meditation, their debut album Scars being released later in the month.To be frank, if you're looking for the bizarre leanings of Nachtmystium's Black Meddle albums, you're not going to find it with Hate Meditation. Scars is raw, gritty black metal in a much purer form, and contains little to no experimental dabbling whatsoever. Blake is (as usual) the guitarist and vocalist for this new project, and this time around his vocals sound a lot raspier than they have in recent years, like high-pitched hisses of sorts that chill the very marrow of your spine ("Impure Rage" and "Staring Into The Abyss" especially). The real value of Hate Meditation, however, comes out in the actual music. Something I've always enjoyed about Blake's songwriting approach is the fact that even when playing more evil, orthodox black metal such as this he somehow always manages to give his music an interesting sense of melody that, while perhaps not overly catchy, is definitely memorable. On Scars Hate Meditation maintain an effective underlying groove that helps to give the album an entrancing and hypnotic vibe. The music's melodies get balanced out nicely with the various tempos throughout the album: sometimes the band get into some faster, more hard-hitting territory ("Wrath And Revenge," "Impure Rage"), and at other points the music withdraws to a slower, more funereal pace (the titular "Scars"). A few tracks, like "The Deceiver and the Believer" and "The Genocide March" employ a blend of these two emotions, also to great effect. If Blake Judd has proven anything with his various projects over the past decade, it's that he definitely has different facets to his musical personality. Hate Meditation channels his inner kvlt demons: the more progressive natures of Nachtmystium's recent albums are gone for the time being, and Blake is back to playing dirty, malevolent black metal. The formula on Scars is basic, and the musical structure is really nothing new, but the effective hook of the melodies and the command of tempo shifts throughout the album lets you know, without question, that this is Blake's music. Whether you prefer an approach like this or a more experimental one out of him, one can't deny: the man has unquestionable talent, and at this point in his career I think it's pretty safe to say that he'll continue to satisfy, regardless of what direction he decides to take with his music.