Released: 2014, Blast Head Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
I could probably count on one hand the number of death metal bands I've ever heard of from Nova Scotia – never mind actually heard. So I was pleasantly surprised by the second album from New Glasgow's Hate Division, a band who have been honing their chops in the relative isolation of the Canadian maritimes for the better part of a decade.
Before we even get to the music, the artwork alone - from Ken Sarafin of Sarafin Concepts, who's done some rad covers of late for Archspire, The Kennedy Veil, Eternium and Oceano, etc. – is pretty bad-ass. Like the Dan Seagrave covers of old - though I guess he's still quite active - it promises a death metal trampling that the band are only too happy to deliver.
Hate Division straddle the line between death metal and tech death, recalling Suffocation/Chris Barnes-era Cannibal Corpse – especially in Sean Wyszynski’s guttural, occasionally vomitous vocals - but with a riffier, more concise attack. Tracks like “Pornography of War” and the bruising “Medicated” ride Howard Young's guitar chug, and while “Creatures of the Grid” takes a more blast-beaty turn, his punchy riffs keep things in check.
The more turbulent moments, as on “The Final Exhalation” are just that – moments. Unlike Archspire, their uber-technical brothers in arms from Canada's West Coast, Hate Division rarely indulge in complexity for complexity's sake, “Stricken” being one notable exception, which is certainly a big check mark in their favor.
The comparatively epic title track that closes the album is the most complicated and involved track here – not to mention the longest at 6:29. Yet it is the one song that really doesn't gel, sounding more like a collection of stitched together parts or scraps, making for a less than grand finale. Ironically, the instrumental centerpiece “Dawn of Quiescence” - the one song where you might expect the band to really go apeshit - is laid-back and almost mellow, echoing Metallica's “Orion” but at half the length and with like one-fourth the riffage.
With Order of the Enslaved, Hate Division prove they've got what it takes to hang with death metal's elite. With some luck, a strong publicity push or, better yet, a tour with some of said elite, perhaps the band can expand their profile beyond Eastern Canada. They certainly deserve to.