Drawing inspiration from early Christian martyrs, You Will Be Hated from Kentucky one-man band Old Thunder is a crushingly heavy combination of crusty sludge and doom. The project’s debut album follows a series of EPs and splits – including with Twilight Fauna – and is clearly a labour of love, using its historical inspirations to produce something that feels deeply personal. And yet it’s also a record with an accessible edge, with the riffs being so strong and infectious that it’s very easy to immerse yourself within the album, ensuring that, even if the lyrical themes don’t connect with you, the music certainly will.
The first half of the album is where the sludge and crust influences reign supreme, with many of the riffs having the kind of power and raw edge that bands like early Mastodon and Kylesa were so good at wielding. It ensures that You Will Be Hated wastes no time in taking hold of the listener, opening with many of the album’s more accessible and immediate songs and riffs, though it’s not all about speed, with ‘Blood & Water’ in particular demonstrating a good understanding of how powerful contrasting tempos can be. There’s a considerable weight to the music throughout, and combined with the energy created by the riffs and sole member Dustin Grooms’ commanding vocals, it makes the first half of You Will Be Hated hugely enjoyable.
Yet, as great and immediate as the first half of the album is, it’s the later half where You Will Be Hated is at its strongest. The songs become longer, with the tempos dropping to those more typically associated with doom. These slower speeds and extended durations play to the benefit of the songs, giving them more time to unfurl and demonstrate their considerable emotional power. As with the first half, the riffs are still strong and powerful, but it’s the emotional impact of the songs that stays in the mind, and makes the album such a success. Nowhere is this more evident than on album centrepiece ‘Thrones & Thieves’, a ten and a half minute journey where the beginning is steeped heavily in misery, but moves towards something deeply cathartic, as inspired by atmospheric black metal as it is funeral doom. It’s a remarkable track, and the definite high-point of You Will Be Hated.
It’s this sense of narrative and emotional journey that makes You Will Be Hated so worthwhile, as the early bursts of rage and fury shift in to more considered, though no less powerful directions. It feels as if a lot of thought and effort has gone in to crafting the album, not just in the sense of the story it tells, but in terms of making it so that the listener can easily engage with what is being put across. Yet as sorrowful as it can often be, it never feels miserable or defeated; instead, it feels as is You Will Be Hated is making the point that we all must endure hardships of some form, and that when we defeat them, we emerge stronger for it. To say such a thing, whilst also making some powerful metal, is quite an achievement indeed.
You Will Be Hated is available to stream and download via Bandcamp.