Early last year I headed up to Kenosha, Wisconsin to cover a record release performance from LAZARUS A.D. for their METAL BLADE debut. Beside the show being held in a surprisingly unconventional venue – an elementary school gym – the real surprise came in the form of a couple of the opening acts. DIRGE WITHIN (then simply “Dirge”) who has since hit the national radar with an album out on E1, and a band called I FOR AN I.
In my original coverage of the show, I pointed readers to some (now-dead) YouTube links encouraging them to check out I FOR AN I. Going out on a limb, I actually did something I rarely (if ever) do, and sent the same links to a few label reps I know, without the knowledge of the band. Beyond that, I hadn’t heard anything about them… until now.
Changing their name due to a similarly-named Canadian act, I FOR AN I became PRODUCT OF HATE and recently self-released their debut EP, THE UNHOLY MANIPULATOR.
The six-track effort confirms my suspicions that this is a band that should easily be moving far beyond their native Wisconsin and onto the National stage. Produced by Chris Djuricic of Belle City Sound, and mastered by James Murphy of Safehouse Productions, THE UNHOLY MANIPULATOR carries the sonic quality of a major-label release without any of the pretension that often accompanies it. With tight performances and solid songwriting throughout, metal fans will find themselves enthralled by another hidden gem of the underground.
Quoting from my own writing regarding that live performance, PRODUCT OF HATE “have an energy best compared to early Pantera and Lamb of God, both a definite influence in their groove-infused” metal, as evident here as it was in that Kenosha gymnasium.
“Start the March” opens the record with fury, a straight-forward three-minute in-your-face blast. Check out the solo work that begins around 2:35 in “Your Last Chance” and the double-bass and lightning riff assault that follows at 3:05. “Blood-Coated Concrete,” “Embrace Your Escape,” and “Eyes of the Damned” find the band working their groove as a foundation for the Anselmo-esque vocal delivery.
On the title track, which also serves as the EP’s closer, theres a breakdown hinted-at early on that returns around 3:27 to bring the disc to a crushing end.
With a running time just shy of 23 minutes, PRODUCT OF HATE’s debut EP with leave you hungry for more, but hardly feeling empty.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars