The Project Hate MCMXCIX - Spewing Venom Into The Eyes Of Deities
Just a year hot on the heels of their thirteenth album, Sweden’s masterful studio death metal band The Project Hate MCMXCIX (or TPH) unleash their 14th masterpiece entitled “Spewing Venom Into The Eyes Of Deities.” For those who have never heard of this group before, the band started in 1999 as a full on performing group to do live shows but as time dragged on and line up changes happened, it has evolved into a fan funded music project that is helmed by Lord K. Philipson who does most of the instrumental work and music arrangements while having a usually stable line up to fill the other duties. TPH pretty much has 4 phases in its life- each marked by their female vocalist who seems to make or break the record; the early ones with Mia Stahl on the likes of albums like “Cyberchrist,” Jo Enckell who helped create excellent works like “The Lustrate Process,” Ruby Roque who performed on TPH’s most unique album “The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda,” still hailed for its change in song structure and TPH’s first attempt to deliver a full on 9 minute instrumental that worked wonders versus little 1 minute snippets.
Now we’re in the last several albums where the lineup so far is feeling pretty steady. Philipson still has Jorgen Sandstrom who has been doing the lead death grunts ever since the beginning and Dirk Verbeuren on drums, and of course Ellinor Asp on the female vocals who was received very roughly by fans with her debut on “No Earth Left Unscorched” but since then has really proven she fits well with TPH’s style of industrial symphonic death metal and just seems to get better and better with each progressing album. So the question is how does “Spewing…” live up to the 1 year predecessor of “Purgatory?”
TPH is a group that is loved or hated. Like a lot of groups out there like Cannibal Corpse or Deicide some bands just seem to stick to the same formula album after album just because it works. Since 2014 TPH has found their relatively sweet spot and stuck with it on the last 6 records: 6 tracks each spanning close to 12 minutes or more of just epic heavy death metal mixed with symphonic arrangements and sometimes random dancy industrial beats. Sometimes it works and sometimes it hasn’t but the group has always been consistent.
However, that consistency has garnered some disdain from listeners before that TPH has been cranking out the same ol’ same ol.’ So Philipson decided to change things up a bit. Whether it was amping up production in some area to really showcase something different like adding more acoustic interludes and moments in the tracks like on “Death Cult Ritual” or more instrumental work such as on “Cadaverous Retaliation,” for those who dive deep down into the music there is always something a little different with TPH’s albums. True, the core of the music structure is opening with hard riffs and deep grunted (or snarled vocals in “Spewing…”), female vocals, death grunts again, industrial beats or acoustic guitar moments to slow things down, thick rumbling bass lines, then back to heavy with a bit of the same heard earlier… one can see how some fans could get tired especially after having to deal with 9 minutes of this and the song is only a third over!
However, the production is good, the songwriting is solid, and anyone who is a fan of death metal with symphonic or industrial moments is probably going to devour this anyway without being too critical even if it does repeat itself. Like the opening ‘Where He Walks, Death Walks’ is a pretty standard TPH track that hits hard with the usual tropes and a guest spot on vocals from Johan Langquist of Candlemass, but in the past where the instrumental work has been the focus of TPH, listeners will notice like the previous album, it feels the shift is more towards a vocal driven focus. Both Sandstrom and Asp have upped their game again on “Spewing” and it shows in the vocal tones and arrangements that Philipson did (maybe it is just good production). But, compared to “Purgatory” they just sound better, and a far cry from the demonic baby of “Deadmarch.”
‘Day of the Asinine’ is one of the heavier tracks on the album with some very biting riffs and little room for quiet save for a few minutes near the middle where the acoustic guitars really support Asp’s voice, though Sandstrom just rips his way alongside Philipson’s guitar and bass work. The arrangement is very dramatic but not quite symphonic metal cheesy and still sounds brutal on all fronts. It isn’t one of the best tracks on the album but Is pretty much the bread and butter formula for a standard TPH track within the last ten years. ‘Omega’ is the first track where we get a bit of a taste of Asp pushing her vocal style. Rather than her usual rough singing she invokes some very demonic Exorcist sounding spoken word moments that contrasts her usual sweet approach, and then the quiet piano is a treat for its foreboding tones that hasn’t really been included with TPH since “The Cadaverous…” album. So it is nice to see Philipson start including that again to round out the symphonic arrangements instead of focusing on the industrial dance beats or acoustic guitar to soften things up in the calm before the guitar storm.
Sandstrom doesn’t really deliver anything new in this track or the album, but one can tell his usual sharp death grunts have been enhanced to more of a ferocious roar that resonates better; on the previous album Sandstrom seemed to be Philipson’s focus, but here on “Spewing” it is clear that Asp is really getting the spotlight, though it seems that for the last 8 years whoever the female vocalist has been for TPH they’ve been more included over time to make them more of a frontal piece vs. background support. Riffage in this track doesn’t quite have the aggression that a track like ‘Where He Walks…’ does but the slower mid paced tones work with the foreboding sense of the music, especially during the interludes. “Purity” also pushes the vocal factors for everyone through layering, but musically seems a bit random with the dance beats which can tend to be hit or miss for TPH as they either flow organically or just seem like a random filler vs. the acoustic and symphonic break that comes right after it. This is where TPH can start to wear on listeners who are not used to them, but thankfully compared to past albums each track so far has had something different to mix things up.
“Ascension” does make the mistake of following “Purity’s” song structure a bit too much, making it a little hard to discern the difference between the two when heard right after the other; the piano bits though are more fluent and the whole piece does have a certain symphonic beauty to it that hasn’t really been heard yet on the album when the vocals are completely absent. Of course this doesn’t last long before Sandstrom and Philipson explode in to inject their vocal venom among Dirk’s drumming. Here is sounds like the dual vocalists are finally taking back the spotlight from Asp, but Asp isn’t shut out completely and by this point has still proven she is still one of TPH’s best vocalists. Finally there is “Deity,” and usually the final track is where TPH pulls out all the stops and close with something that really is a highlight.
On the previous album with “Birth” it was the change in vocal style for Sandstrom for a more demonic roar vs. grunt with spoken word layers that came across as something close to much slower Marduk, and on “Bleeding the new Apocalypse” back in 2011 it was just showing the longest, most dramatically guitar heavy track with a great balance of female vocal and male grunts with one of the most memorable 3 minute outros after a crying baby, so anyone who knows TPH knows that it all boils down to the last track to make a final impression- good or bad. Here with “Deity” it starts out a bit like “Day of the Asinine” in riffage, but halfway through the song listeners get that anthemic jackhammer of a riff and both Sandstrom and Asp delivering something darker vocally and overall the tension just skyrockets before the riffs come back in. TPH hasn’t really been known for delivering overwhelming sonic moments like guitar solos, progressive or wacky breakdowns, or curveballs like tuba, but has always seemed to manage to show its prowess in simplicity be it a certain riff choice or the ability to get that foreboding feeling from quiet right before loud. Asp’s vocal work here is profound, much like how it sounded on ‘Omega,’ but it doesn’t border the embarrassment that was heard on “No Earth I Will Leave Unscorched” that garnered so much hate. Now that she’s established herself over the years with TPH she has the freedom to experiment a bit with her vocals and be met with praise rather than scorn. From the heavy opening to the somber outro, each part of TPH does their part and again, showcase why they are king of their genre.
So there one has it. If symphonic industrial death metal is the key to the soul, then TPH is the gate to cross. For new listeners it is hard to say one could go wrong with any TPH- even take a listen to “No Earth I Will Leave Unscorched” just to hear how bad that is compared to “Spewing…” and then one will see why each part of TPH- from Philipson to Verbeuren- is so good at what they have done in the last few years. They’ve capitalized on their successes and learned from their mistakes and have churned out platinum with each release. The only thing that might grind the gears of TPH fans- old and new- is the lyrical content has tended to get a little stale. Yes there are tons of bands out there like Deicide or Cannibal Corpse that stick to the same lyrical tropes as they do with their music, and while TPH takes the God bashing words on a more poetic level vs. a band like Deicide does, it tends to wear a bit on the ears after a while once you read them all.
But, TPH’s magic is in their sound- they could probably be singing about killing hippies and it would still sound awesome with what they do. So, for those who want to hear an album well worth their time and money because it clocks nearly at 80 minutes, then “Spewing Venom…” is worth checking out. It is another TPH sonic arrangement masterfully done to show the marriage between death metal, industrial, and symphonic with beauty and beast vocals that just make an impact on the ear (in a good way).
4.5 / 5 STARS