There’s a part of black metal, no matter the sound or origin where emotions take control of the music rather than the musician. No matter how hard the musician will try to dominate the way the music is played, emotions will win out. And I’m not just talking about the cardinal emotions of joy, hate, sadness, and so on, I’m referring to the subtler emotions, the complex feelings that often languages have no exact word or phrase to describe. Where words fail, music steps in. Even black metal. Black metal tries pretty hard sometimes, or at least a vocal portion of musicians/fans, to deny any or of deeper meaning or emotions other than hatred in their music but it’s simply not possible for something like music to exist in such a vacuum. Emotion is part of music; positive, negative, and neutral. The closer you look at it, the more you can see.
That was my overall thought process as I listened to Hatespirit this weekend and their latest album “Blood and Poetry.” If you take the name of the band literally, as is one’s want, the album is pretty standard fare for black metal. It’s has a harsh, cold sound, as so many bands from Finland do (more on that later) that’s raw but still sharp and brutal. The vocals are strong and virulent and the guitars chug riff after riff to form a pretty good, headstrong melody that carries the album really well.
However, if you look deeper, if you really pay attention to the music, taking each moment and note separately, you get a different sort of album. Blood and Poetry has some intricate harmonies that you don’t see in black metal, unless you’re really looking I suppose. The melodies are intense with subtle undertones of all varying degrees of anger, from full of pissed and ready to march off to war, to general frustrations. Each degree is expressed thoughtfully and, well, poetically.
Poetry and black metal are not to subjects that find themselves together very often but every now and then, in albums like Blood and Poetry, there are inexplicably beautiful pieces. That being said I would never call Hatespirit or Blood and Poetry beautiful, and I think they would appreciate that. Instead it’s a stark, blunt look on the world with full misanthropic forces. Hatespirit is not an easily accessible band with an “awesome” sound that will get everyone going. It has the spirit of what a lot of people think black metal should be, it’s inclusive and elitist and selfish. And I like it that way. If you try to present Hatespirit as a band that everyone should try and promise them they’ll enjoy it, you will get a lot of disappointment. Some bands are only for certain people. While I think everyone has the ability to like some aspect or subgenre of black metal, there are certain bands and genres that are, let’s just call it expert level black metal. Black metal has a certain mindset and the deeper you get into it, the more obvious that mindset is.
I enjoyed Hatespirit, the more and more I listened to Blood and Poetry the more I became aware that they, like so many bands before them, have a distinct “Finnish” sound to them. If you listened to Sargeist, Azaghal, and Horna then threw on some Hatespirit, you would find a ton of similarities. Finnish black metal, more so than even Norwegian black metal, has a very distinct voice. It’s cold and harsh yet the production is almost never fuzzy and bland. The sound is raw but not dirty, each imperfection is there to add to the overall effect, it’s not an incidental byproduct but a purposeful quality. It’s a sound that almost borders on thrash. Finnish black metal has a nastier, but more refined attitude than the Norwegian sound does. With that, I will say that I love the Norwegian black metal sound just as much as I like the Finnish sound, they are, however, extraordinarily different.
As I said before, some will love Hatespirit, some will hate it, some won’t be able to understand the deeper meaning. I encourage everyone to try it though, you never know what you can find.
Listen and support!