Released towards the end of Hate Forest's career in 2004, 'Scythia', is a re-recording of their first demo from 1999, and combines their stripped-down, relentless black metal style with some interesting musical touches and atmospheric devices to create a suprisingly varied and cohesive album.
The songs are still comprised of harsh, freezing black metal, and many of the riffs on offer here possess an icy, droning quality full of strained melody and dread, that will likely appeal to fans of early Gorgoroth and Mayhem. The sound here is less trebly than on earlier efforts, with more low-end sound present, and the songs rattle on with a well established sense of momentum throughout.
There is considerable variety between tracks on offer here (for Hate Forest anyway), and further diversity is achieved through the use of atmospheric devices, including samples of howling wolves, thunder, lightning and rainfall, cawing crows, wind effects, portentous, chilling synths and raw, despondent chords reminscient of Xasthur. The vocals are more varied too, which whilst being essentially the same guttoral cries on which the band has always relied, are often multi-layered, working well in conjunction with the myriad atmospheric samples.
Then there is the final track, 'To Those Who Came Before Us', which starts off in the cold, rumbling, Hate Forest style of old, albeit with more musical variation than before, before shifting to a more open, mid-paced style, entering into Drudkh territory with its sad, folky atmosphere and lethargic, drawn out rhythms.
Overall then, 'Scythia' is an excellent black metal album with lots of interesting variations throughout, made well worth picking up by the closing track alone.
1. The Unity 01:24
2. Scythia 07:03
3. Forgotten Voice of Black Perun 01:19
4. Shining Abyss 04:31
5. Forests of Nevres 04:35
6. Attila 04:08
7. Herros 02:01
8. To Those Who Came Before Us 11.00
Total playing time 36:01