Hate MedWith the amount of creativity Blake Judd has, he was never going to sit on his laurels for long. With his main project Nachtmystium seemingly on hold for an indeterminate amount of time, he has decided that 2012 was the ideal time to revisit an old project of his – Hate Meditation, albeit this time with a boosted line up including USBM heavyweight Wrest of Leviathan. OK, so Judd still has bands whom he regularly contributes to (Twilight and Drug Honkey in particular) but this was a particularly interesting solo project for me personally. Originating back in 2003, and only releasing a gnarly 3 track demo which was clearly ripped off its tits on Blasphemy, early Beherit and Von, this band was spoken about in hushed tones and revered whispers by ‘those in the know’ for a good while. 10+ years later, and although the band’s sound has changed somewhat, the intent is still just as vicious.

Putting aside the eccentric meanderings and hazy, drug induced strangeness which enveloped the sound of later Nachtmystium, Blake Judd has revisited the scornful spite of Nachtmystium’s earlier works with Hate Meditation. Cold, yet melody filled black metal is the aural treat to feast upon here, with raw icy riffage reminding of the frost of early Emperor with the callous heart of early Darkthrone. Judd’s vocals are engrained with malice, spitting out desolate hymns of odium-filled disdain – he’s more atrocious vocally than I’ve heard him for years on this album, and it adds huge amounts to the vibe of the album throughout. ‘Impure Rage’ has some very cleverly pieced together melodic guitar lines which glide over the manic riffage underneath, adding a multidimensional feeling to the song, the ethereal melodies gazing dejectedly down on the maelstrom of riffage below, acting as yin and yang for the perfectly balanced waves of music which course with spite and vengeance.

‘The Genocide’ opens with a riff which systematically pounds in a rhythmic manner, allowing a good bit of neck snapping to be done, before the chorus again sees the melodic guitar lines soaring alongside the synthwork above the tumultuous structures beneath. ‘Wrath & Revenge’ could easily be a lost track from ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’, ebbing and flowing with sheer malevolence throughout, before closing out with the longest track on the album – title track ‘Scars’. This features more of a spacy sound in comparison to the rest of the tracks, with blissed out moody guitars chiming in mournful repetition as Judd really stretches the vocal chords to near breaking point with inhuman howls and screams.

Overall, this was much more of a comprehensive album than I was expecting having heard the band’s earlier bludgeoning brutality. It seems that no matter what style of music this guy seems to create, it always has the ability to instantly captivate the listener into a witchcraft-like hypnotic state which holds firm for the albums completion. Hate Meditation is undoubtedly a baring of the darker side of his soul, and judging by the unfettered rage you will witness upon pressing play, it’s a side that needs a good airing more often. It’d be a crime if you let this pass you by if you’re into black metal.

(8.5/10 Lars Christiansen)