Good news, Hate fans! (There are Hate fans out there, aren’t there?) Crusade:Zero—the new, ninth full-length album from the Warsaw-based blackened death trio—does more or less exactly what you’d expect it to. Throughout its nearly-hour-long run time, we get droves of meaty riffs, a barrage of double-bass- and blast-beat-driven rhythms, and all the primal, gutteral roars you could ask for. In short, it sounds reliably like Hate. That’s about the highest compliment one could pay to any of their recent output, and it’s one that continues to hold them back as a stagnant presence in an increasingly forward-thinking death metal community.
When an album’s minute-or-so-long instrumental interludes make for some of the biggest highlights, you know you’re in for a rough go. But that’s more or less what we get with Crusade:Zero, which opens with not one, but two of them in what almost acts as a raising of the white flag before we really even begin. These two—“Vox Dei (A Call from Beyond)” and “Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Wrath”—along with later pace-changers, “The Omnipresence” and “Black Aura Debris,” are really the only significant stylistic departures on an album whose core style simply begs for them.
That core style? You’ll know it well by now, as it’s been done by Hate on eight previous occasions—not to mention done much better, and with much more variety, by their death metal countrymen in Behemoth, Decapitated and others. Crush, brutalize, kill, repeat. Crush, brutalize, kill, repeat. Set some ridiculous lyrics over-top—be it the interminable repetition of ‘abyss born Leviathan’ on “Leviathan,” or the LOL-worthy rhyming of ‘dagger’ with ‘sangre’ on “Death Liberator—and you’ve more or less got the formula down.
To be clear, none of this is particularly horrible or abjectly offensive; Crusade:Zero does what it does decently enough, and as we see on a track like “Rise Omega the Consequence!” the occasional diamond does emerge from the rough. It’s just that there’s so little here to set these songs apart from the rest of Poland’s blackened death scene—or, in fact, from themselves.
If you’re in the mood for some heavy, yet completely unoriginal and uninspired blackened death metal, give Crusade:Zero a spin. But don’t be surprised if you’ve completely forgotten a song as soon as you’ve finished listening and moved onto the next one. Four listens through, the album’s yet to sink in, and the smart money’s against it ever doing so.
Keep it heavy,