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Interview

Hate Frontman Adam "ATF Sinner" Buszko Discusses New Album "Rugia," Huge Tour Plans And Slavic Paganism

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Band Photo: Hate (?)

Poland has long had a great history with metal music. It was the first country behind the iron curtain that many metal bands were able to perform in and the Poles themselves have a tremendous history of producing many awesome bands. From the thrash metal fun of Acid Drinkers, to the pioneering death metal of Vader, the blackened death metal stars Behemoth and the vicious black metal courtest of Blaze Of Perdition, Poland has always been the masters of Slavic metal. There's one more band which needs to always be in the discussion when it comes to Polish metal, which hails from the capital city of Warsaw and has been decimating stages and ears for twenty five years now: Hate.

Beginning life under the name Infected and then as Somuchhate, the band released a string of demos before their debut, "Daemon Qui Fecit Terram" was unleashed in 1996. Since then, the band has only got stronger, creating a loyal fan base the world over and crafting a legacy of excellent extreme metal music. Tomorrow, Hate will release their twelth studio album, "Rugia," their second through Metal Blade Records. To find out more about this album, Metal Underground caught up with the band's frontman Adam "ATF Sinner" Buszko, who revealed the inspiration behind the album's name and much more. You can watch it in full below.

Diamond Oz: The new album, which I’m sure I’ll mispronounce, "Rugia"...

Adam Buszko: *corrects pronunciation* It is a Slavic name, in an archaic Slavic language, but I have no problem with it (soft g pronunciation).

Oz: And is this a Polish Slavic word or from the Balkan territories perhaps?

Adam: It’s actually Pomeranian so it’s close to the Baltic sea, because it’s the name of an island of the Baltic Sea, which is now the German island of Rugen. So "Rugia" is an archaic Slavic name for it and it was a religious hub ten centuries ago. Also it was like the last bastion of Western Slavic paganism because this was the place where the famous Arkona temple was located and they were pagan until the twelfth century. Poland had been Christianised for two centuries at least and those tribes who lived in that area were actually the enemies of the Polish princes and later the Polish king.

Oz: Nice. Did you choose to name the album as a tribute to that resistance?

Adam: Yes, exactly. You can call it a tribute album or something like that for this reason, especially since I’m so inspired by the history of this place, those tribes and their beliefs, culture, philosophy and so on, I felt it would be a good idea to restore their history in a way, to remind us of this great heritage. That’s why the album is called "Rugia."

Oz: It seems like it has a parallel in the modern day as well, since Poland is perceived to have a right wing, Catholic government.

Adam: Unfortunately, that’s very true. It’s a very conservative, right wing Catholic government and they’ve been in power for six years now. Anyway, it doesn’t have much in common with these themes that we’re talking about, it’s the archaic Slavic heritage that I’m interested in. Sure, you can relate this to the present time as well on many levels because we still have a lesson to learn from those archaic cultures I believe. These Slavonic tribes that functioned, or flourished, you can say, long before those lands were Christianised.

You know, every mythology is like a collection of universal stories and beliefs and this is no exception. I use it as a frame and within this framework you can find a lot of meanings. You can find a lot of parallel situations to contemporary situations and the questions that surround us are still very much the same. It was very inspiring to look through the eyes of these people at the existence that we’re in.

Oz: Very nice. I was wondering, that being said, you did the music video "Resurgence," was it filmed on the island?

Adam: No. It was filmed in the southern part of Poland, in Silesia, as we call it. Just a few days ago, we were shooting another video for the album, for the song “Exiles Of Pantheon,” also with the same crew, which is a filming agency called Nine Letters. I thought that these themes that we’re talking about called for visualisation, so this is like the next step, so that in this way we can convey more messages, we can show more meanings and what it’s all about, which is very important, I think. Same with the shows. From now on, I’m pretty sure that our stage will look different, maybe more elaborate, more offensive stage designs, because it’s necessary to visualise the ideas of this album into these live shows as well.

Oz: Excellent, I look forward to seeing that for myself! This is also an interesting album because you’ve split with a couple of members since your last release, it’s the first to feature Nar-Sil on drums and did Tiernes play bass on this or is he more of a live member?

Adam: He’s actually one of the main members right now. He joined us not long ago, right before the pandemic started actually because we were playing a European tour with Belphegor and Suffocation. Before that tour started, we had a big problem because our previous, longtime drummer Pavulon, announced that he had a really big health issue and that it was something that would take time to recover from, it was very serious and it was his suggestion that we hire somebody to replace him.

I found this young guy who was just twenty something years old and we only played a few rehearsals with him before the tour and he proved to be a very good drummer and a complete musician. That tour actually had to stop right in the middle because of the pandemic, so we came back from Switzerland to Poland and then it was clear that no concerts will happen in the foreseeable future. So we were in a situation where we could make best use of the time and then Pavulon informed us that he couldn’t continue with us because of his problems.

We started making new songs, or continuing with the compositions, because I originally started writing some songs with Pavulon, but then we continued with this young, energetic and very enthusiastic drummer. This is one positive thing about the pandemic, that if it didn’t happen it would probably have taken us another year to make the album, but in that situation we had a lot of time, we weren’t pressed for time or facing any pressure from the label. Then, after eight months when I said that we’re ready to start recording, the label gave us a green light and here we are.

Oz: Just going by the songs that have been released so far, not to disparage the previous albums, Hate sounds re-energised. Having brought in new musicians, how was it different in terms of song writing this time, as opposed to "Auric Gates of Veles"?

Adam: The process is very similar every time. It’s me coming up with the main ideas, on which we work first with the drummer and then with the guitarist and bassist. Before entering the studio, we actually did full pre-production for all of the songs, which were about twelve in total, so we did that in another studio and then had to decide which songs to choose from, because we couldn’t afford to spend half a year in a studio.

We had to confine ourselves to say, nine songs and because the new drummer is, let’s say more death metal oriented, he’s a great fan of death metal, we actually share a lot of interests in music, so it was easy to work with him. It’s kind of a phenomenon because he’s really young but his parents are metalheads, so he got a really good education at home. To the point where when he said that he was going to join Hate, his mother opened a drawer and took out a cassette, which was our second demo from 1993, I think.

Anyway, to answer your question, he really brought a lot of energy and I wanted to expose his fantastic skills here and there so there are more technical parts in the songs than, for example, our previous album. So definitely, his drumming influenced my thinking and my way of composing the songs. Joining forces with other musicians, you’ll always have some new phenomenon and you can hear this on the album, for sure,

Oz: Something else very striking about the album is the artwork. Now that I know that the title comes from an island and the old pagan religion around there, it seems kind of strange that the artwork is more of a figure than a landscape. How satisfied are you that the artwork connects to the ideas of the album?

Adam: I really like the artwork on the album. It’s very enigmatic, as you can see, because it’s really hard to describe the figure. It’s more of a symbolic figure, I think. We understand it as a representation of a Slavonic deity or something like that and this figure has a rune sign, which means unity. Also in the layout, there’s the same rune compared with the inverted cross which represents the unity in paganism.

Anyway, this was made by our very good friend Daniel Rusilowicz, he’s worked with us for many years, since the "Erebos" album in 2010. He’s been an author of many layouts and t-shirt designs and a lot of other stuff connected with the band, so he really is into the band and the atmosphere. He listened to the songs many, many times before he came up with the idea of how to visualise it and what the proper layout should look like. Since the beginning, I think his ideas were very good at conveying the atmosphere of the album. There’s something wild and something which is not well defined and also some mystery. I’ve talked to a few journalists about this layout and everybody saw something else in it, which means that this is a good layout because it can mean a lot of things to different people. It can animate a lot of associations, so I’m really happy about it. It’s open for different explanations.

Oz: It’s interesting that you brought up your new drummer’s mother digging out the old cassette and having that link to the past, because this year also marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of your debut album. Was it important to have a new album out to coincide with that milestone or is it a coincidence?

Adam: It’s actually a coincidence, but we are thinking about some special release that would sum up our activity in a proper way, though I think it should be a DVD or a concert, rather than a studio album. We’ve been talking about this with Metal Blade and also with another label that’s interested in putting it out and I think that next year, we’ll focus on this idea because it would be a great thing to have another DVD after so many years, which as I say, would sum up our ideas and be a great trophy for the fans as well. We’ll talk about this for sure and try to realise it next year.

Oz: You mentioned discussing the idea with Metal Blade. This is the second album you’ve released through Metal Blade and obviously, Hate has been on different labels before. What’s different about Metal Blade to other labels that you’ve been with?

Adam: Well, I think the way they organise their work, generally speaking. They’re very open to ideas and open for discussions, they never say no. They’re open to discussing a project at least, so this is very good. Those guys are there for a reason. They’re very into this music and they understand much more from the music, as well as the business and I think they also think of a collaboration with a band in a longer perspective. It’s not just this album, not just this video, but they’ll talk about the next steps, what we can do in the future as well, which is a really different approach from other labels that we have worked with in the past. It’s a very nice change, I must say and so far, so good.

Oz: Just finally, obviously with the world starting to open up, what plans have you got to further promote "Rugia"?

Adam: For the last two years we haven’t played many concerts, obviously, but we actually had a lot of festivals and tours booked. All of them were either cancelled or postponed, so next year it looks like a very busy period for us. We actually have four tours already booked for the next year and quite a lot of festivals as well, so we’ll have a lot of opportunities, if nothing bad happens of course, to promote the album. The first tour starts in February. It’s a tour with Suffocation and Belphegor again, it’s the same one which was cancelled before, but this time we’re coming back with more shows. It’ll be more than a month covering Europe, without Scandinavia, but most parts of the continent of Europe.

Then there’s another tour where we’ll play as direct support to Vader, which is a Scandinavian and Baltic tour. This will be announced very soon because everything has been booked and there’s a poster already and then we have one more in Asia, which looks very attractive and interesting because it covers all those exotic countries like Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, Japan and then Australia and New Zealand. We’ve never ever been to Australia and New Zealand on tour so this is going to be a first for us, but it’ll be our second big Asian tour, so it’s a great opportunity for us and I’m looking forward to it. We also have a lot of offers from European festivals and we’re talking with an agent in America as well, so a lot of good things might happen. We’ll see!

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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