This is the fourth full-length under the Empusae moniker from Nicolas van Meirhaeghe. It paints a dark ambient, lurid dream with pianos and resonance, but often transforms into steady, minimalist beats. The entire album is saturated with a bleak and haunting atmosphere of natural decay, lending credence to the title.
At over 15 minutes, the title track begins with some swollen, nullifying noise until the doom laden pianos arrive and begin to steer the composition. There are various breaks in which subtle electronic percussion is introduced under reductive noise, and then just beyond the midpoint the electronic elements pick up and the track becomes a hypnotic, subtle electro anthem. The transition is tasteful and fulfilling. "Undead Soil" is a shorter tune, driven by its abstract beats and a wonderful dark glow of ambient keys. "Fragments of Cerebral Dimensions" begins with some very sparse, alluring noise, then the melody of the synth rolls in a denser wave and it eventually transforms into a nice, minimal beat. "Hard Boiled Wonderland" was one of my favorite tracks on this album, I loved the cascades and distractions of electronic whine which shift below the very full, percussive backbone. The final track "Waanzin" is primarily throbbing noise with some samples of a man speaking, though it too finally emerges into an interesting industrial beat.
It is obvious some creativity has gone into this album, and the result is a consistent and dark vision. This would be great listening if you are in the mood for something haunting and ambient, but with actual beats to it. I've always wished more noise/dark ambient projects would go this route. Empusae does so successfully. This is not really a 'catchy' album. It is an album of pure mood and transition, which will work best as a backdrop for a particular activity. Perhaps surfing the web, perhaps playing a game, perhaps sitting in a dark room meditating with some incense. Whatever your poison, The Hatred of Trees is more than likely to enrich the environment of your experience.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10]