It was seven years in the making, but Amon 418 finally completed his debut HATE PROFILE release, "Opus I: The Khaos Hatefile". The first of a planned trilogy, "The Khaos Hatefile" is "a spiritual and existential growth concept," and I'll spare you any feeble attempts at interpreting the rest. Musically, "Opus I: The Khaos Hatefile" is a black metal release that is epic in feeling (the concept, the atmospheric parts, etc), yet harsh (though not primitive) in delivery. In black metal terms, the guitar tone is dry and biting, the drums a good mix of blast, fill, and backbone, and the vocal style an echoing and throaty mid-register scream that sits in the middle of the mix. Light keys are utilized to create just the right amount of atmosphere.
While I did not find the album to reach heights previously attained by HATE PROFILE's contemporaries, "Opus I" is a worthy effort that gets better with repeat listens. For whatever reasons, the first couple listens left me nonplussed. I later realized that the magnitude of the whole doesn't sink until you have spent some time with it (at least to my ears). With the exception of the atmospheric instrumental "Demons in Me (Intro to Inferno)" — a track marked by spooky clean picking, whispers, etc. — and the chilling airiness of instrumental closer "Lapse of Perfection – Pralaya", the delivery is satisfactorily savage with a semi-mesmerizing quality. Whereas, a song like "The Day My Feathers Fell" has a slower, grinding quality, most of the rest are up-tempo and sport a good bit of black metal rage. GroM (ANCIENT, HORTUS ANIMAE) makes his presence known by delivering some classic black metal reckless-yet-in-the-pocket drumming and adds accent in all the right places, "Veils that Blind" being most representative of the latter quality. In fact, I keep coming back to "Veils that Blind" every time I listen to the album. While it may not stand far above the rest of the tracks, a tempo shift and switch to a gnarly Swedish-style death metal riff in one part of the song just slays me every time. The title track features some nice arrangement changeups as well.
Giving the "Opus I: The Khaos Hatefile" a couple of extra spins will be worth the time spent. It may not have blown my mind, but it did impress me and piqued my curiosity about what may be in store on the next two releases.