AOTW: Darkthrone – Hate Them (2003)

darkthronehatethem

Hate Them is certainly an interesting piece of work and might seem like an odd choice for a Darkthrone album review. It just so happened that the circumstances were right for me to listen to this album when I did.

During early 2016 I was going though a bit of an identity crisis – I was spending very long hours at work and didn’t have much energy for anything when I came home. The looming deadlines and a plethora or interesting yet difficult projects put me under quite a bit of pressure. Instinctively I started searching for an outlet in music, but nothing that popped up on YouTube or elsewhere was very satisfying.

I felt in need of something very raw and ugly, something to match my rotten mood and the miserable March weather in Toronto. By this time I’ve only listened to 2 Darkthrone albums – Transylvanian Hunger and Hate Them, and I wasn’t even sure if I’ve ever listened to the latter in full length. I forgot to mention I’ve also heard Dark Thrones and Black Flags, but that album went completely over my head and was promptly forgotten.

So I took Hate Them for a spin and it hit the spot. Starting with the grim intro and the mid-paced build up in Rust, I knew this was the right music for the circumstances.

I come from a land
Of systematic erasure of optimism and positiveness
You don’t want to encourage me

It’s no secret that Fenriz, the drummer and the lyricist of Darkthrone went through a lengthy spell of depression some time between the release of Panzerfaust in 1995 and the recording of this album. This resulted in Darkthrone putting out a few lackluster albums and losing some of their relevance in the Black Metal scene. Hate Them was a sort of bounce-back album for Fenriz, where the lyrics reflected on his internal struggles during the preceding years, but also introduced a new topic – a discussion of the contemporary Metal scene.

Fucked Up and Ready to Die is a song whose title speaks for itself, it also happens to be one of the best songs on the album.

Half my life in your name
Fucked up and ready to die
Death just takes a moment
Suffering is forever

This song is significant for another reason: the ending has an unmistakably Punk-ish feel to it. This is true of most other songs on the album as well – Hate Them is a crossbreed – it has sonic qualities of Black Metal, but the song structure and the general attitude on the album are very much Punk Rock. It was with this album that Darkthrone began their experimental, ‘freestyle’ period.

The first ever Darkthrone song I’ve listened to, called Striving for a Piece of Lucifer, is also from this album and to this day it remains one of my favourites. This might also be the only pure Black Metal song on the album.

Let’s see who stands when the smoke clears
Keep kicking that litter our way
We ain’t about to throw the fight here
We all shall die

In the end Hate Them is not an album for everyone, and I would speculate that most Darkthrone fans don’t like this album much. Perhaps I am being skewed by the sentimental value of this album since it was my first exposure to Darkthrone and the Norwegian Black Metal sound some years ago. However, I do think this album stood the test of time, at least for me. Listening to this album after all the years prompted me to explore the rest of Darkthrone’s music and, most importantly, take a deeper look at the 80s and early 90s Metal scene. I think it would be fair to say that without Hate Them there wouldn’t be this blog.

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