The Project Hate MCMXCIX - Abominations Of The Ageless

The Project Hate (or TPH as many know them) have graced 2023 with a new album, 2 years this time vs. 1 after their last album “Spewing…” Those that know me as a reviewer know I have a biased soft spot for this band as they blend a seamless mix of Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Symphonic Metal, and in Industrial at Funeral Doom epic proportions and just have delivered a consistent slew of majestic releases. Ever since hearing them in 2008 I’ve listened to every album and each one has impressed me- from the raw “Cyberchrist” to the masterpiece known as “Purgatory.” Their last album was solid but maybe a bit rushed, so maybe the 2 year gap will deliver something fresh. The lineup is still the same as it has been since 2014 so all the members have joined K Philipson for another 6 tracks each of plus 10 minute solid Death Metal. Mastered by Dan Swano expect top notch production with a crisp studio sound so nothing is left out or missed out on. The hammering of the drums along with the guitars and bass hit just as hard as the beautiful symphonic bits that pop up every once in a while. “Spewing…” had its glory moments (though not as many as “Purgatory”) so hopefully “Abominations Of The Ageless” will have a few stand out features as well.

For those that do not know of TPH, the project is mostly from K Philipson (or Lord K) who does all the composing and guitars, bass and electronic work with backing vocals. The main vocal delivery is the discernible roar of Jorgen Sandstrom who still sounds beastly on this album. Like George Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse his voice is pretty consistent across releases and shows no sign of tiring. The other half of the vocal delivery comes from Ellinor Asp who started out with a pretty rough reception but has gotten better and better over time. Here on “Abominations…” though it feels like her vocal work has taken a little bit of a back seat as she isn’t featured as much as Jorgen and even her voice feels rougher in delivery just from the opening track and onward. Project Hate certainly seem to have gone back to a more aggressive stance on their rhythms and speed so the music here sounds much like what was heard on “Of Chaos and Carnal Pleasures.” “Abominations” is HEAVY. Don’t expect the usually lush acoustic or electronic interludes that tend to pop up randomly- everything just delivers hard and fast. ‘Fördärv’ features churning guitars backed by bass work also from Lord K and drumming from Dirk Verbeuren which is thick and percussive as always but still clear (mostly thanks to mastering from Dan Swano). Whereas on the last few albums the vocals have been the stand out and driving force, it feels more like the guitar work is what drives “Ageless…” Constantly in one’s face there is not much room for respite save for when Ellinor sings roughly or the choirs come in. The choirs are a bit of a new thing as TPH tries to add something symphonically they haven’t really done recently. The symphonic elements were more keyboard driven with piano bits, but here it all feels more organic and orchestral like in a Dimmu Borgir since. Somewhat cheesy at times and drawn out like towards the end of the song, but still effective.

There aren’t as many stand out moments on “Abominations…” compared to past albums, and that is a bit of a let down.  TPH has been known for some sort of surprise or something different be it a great symphonic or electronic interlude, something different with the vocals, or just one hell of memorable solo. “Cadaverous…” had its random interludes of electronica and “Death Cult…” had its acoustic moments. “Abominations…” is riff heavy, but that’s pretty much the main driving force aside from Jorgen’s roars. Asp kept getting better and better and had her peak on “Purgatory” and here she pretty much delivers with the same gusto as she did on “Death Ritual…” but it doesn’t hit as hard or stand out. Her voice sounds a little more hoarse and less angelic, but it still sounds good and not as rough as it did when she started but she’s sung better. Aside from the lengthy sections of electronics which tend to pop up ¾ through the song with some spoken word elements, the album does sound like a more straightforward polished Death Metal album, and at the same time can become predictable, which has not really been TPH’s style. Other tracks like ‘The Embodiment…’ churn with bass groove but still hit in the same manner as the opening track, letting the focus be on the guitars and Death grunts which herald ferocity and stomp ears and just will incite head banging and mosh pits galore, but wear on the ears a bit due to the length of the track before the electronics come in and Asp gets solid vocal time (though on this track she does sound very solid and more angelic compared to the beginning of the album which made her sound rough and more like her days in “No Earth Left…”). There are guest vocals from Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth on ‘Swine God...’ but since his delivery is much like Jorgen’s roar, it can be hard to tell when he takes part. But like “Of Chaos…” this isn’t anything new and again feels like a bit of rehashing the elements from 2017.

“Abominations…” is not a bad album by any means. It just takes until the final track to really get something to stand out. TPH fans will not really find anything new as the album progresses but ‘And This Too Shall Pass’ stands out specifically for 2 reasons. For 1, it is a personal track for K about the loss of a good friend and a lyrical departure from the usual Christian/ Christ bashing in poetic fashion. While not the best example of Asp’s vocals she does mix things up with how she delivers with her spoken rant moments and screams versus just singing (her best singing for the album is on the previous track ‘To See the Light…’). Jorgen certainly delivers flawlessly- but he pretty much does that on every album- and K’s songwriting is more melodic and less heavy and pummeling, unlike the riffs on ‘To See the Light...’ which is probably the heaviest track on the album or close to it when compared to the opener. This is more the grandiose TPH that we all know and love, and it is the closing 4 minute outro part that will grab listeners. TPH aren’t really known for lengthy symphonic outros mixed with electronica elements and acoustic bits, so the funeral tone of the music certainly matches the spirit of the track and delivers something fresh and emotional for listeners- both new and old. Past albums like “Bleeding the New Apocalypse” had its long outros and intros but usually left on a very heavy note with guitar driven bombast, and this track exits somberly.
It’s moments like these that hopefully would have showed up more on the album and “Abominations…” just didn’t quite have enough of them. But, the closing track is worth the price of admission alone (then again though what TPH album doesn’t have a closer that steals the show?). “Abominations…” is TPH at some of its heaviest, but not their most varied. New listeners to this band will find this enjoyable, but more seasoned TPH listeners might feel it is a rehash of “Of Chaos…” with the album artwork a bit of a repeat of “Death Ritual…” Nothing really new here to hear but those who like their Death Metal heavy with melodic elements, lengthy tracks sprinkled with electronica and symphonic bits, and just solid production all around will find TPH worth the listen.

3.5 / 5 STARS

1. Fördärv
2. Swine God Apparation
3. The Embodiment Of The Grotesque
4. Revel In Glorified Demise
5. To See The Light In His Eyes Go Out
6. And This Too Shall Pass