In an ideal world, today’s Retrospective would have been a celebration of my first time ever seeing Hate Eternal. But things come up: the Metal Alliance tour totally buckled, and headliners Deicide and the venue could not come to “agreeable” terms, so it’s not happening. Instead, this post will be a celebration of Hate Eternal’s debut full length, Conquering the Throne and I’ll just go sulk in the corner quietly and wait for the next tour that probably won’t be coming near me.
Hailing from Florida, the hot bed of death metal, Hate Eternal formed in 1997 as the brainchild of Erik Rutan, previously of Morbid Angel and Ripping Corpse. As such, there was little doubt of the talent that would be displayed. Couple that with Suffocation alum and fellow guitarist Doug Cerrito, Jared Anderson on bass and Tim Yeung on drums and you get a true death metal dream team.
When this album dropped in 1999, I was 24 and full of piss and venom, and looking back on it now this is most likely what drew me to this album. Because that’s what this thing is! Vitriolic, blazing fast from start to finish, and dare I say brutal? Hell yes, because it was and is, to the Nth degree.
Rutan is more technical here than ever, but the biggest difference from his past work is the aggression that bleeds all over everything. That starts with album opener “Praise of the Almighty,” which introduces us to the ultra speed riffing, infernally glorious soloing and a pissed off vocal delivery that keeps up throughout. Yeung’s drumming is, for a lack of a better word, completely intense and was some of the fastest I’d heard in death metal at the time.
“Catacombs” is aptly titled, as to this day, its higher- and lower-pitched angular guitar attacks, coupled with the smothering drum layers, give me the feeling of being trapped in a collapsed crypt with oxygen levels slowly depleting. Three tracks into the album and the ferocious speed doesn’t once show signs of letting up.
Of the eleven tracks on the album, Rutan wrote all but three. Cerrito cowrote “Nailed To Obscurity,” “Dethroned,” and “Spiritual Holocaust” and his time in Suffocation shines through. His guitar stays in the lower register to contrast with Rutan’s higher-scale sounds. The riffs in the opening sequence of “Spiritual Holocaust” are one of many of my personal highlights and I’ve always dug the back and forth between the two guitarists here. Yeung’s drumming earned him the nickname “The Missile,” and rightfully so; his intensity here is only matched by the speed of the lead guitar work.
My only downside to this album is that Anderson’s bass is, at times, almost nonexistent. When it surfaces loud enough to hear, it’s so far back in the mix and tough to make out over the thunderous drums. It’s a shame when you think of how outstanding his playing was, but what’s done is done and this isn’t a total deal-breaker by any means.
Over the years, aging has helped me deal with my piss and venom to a point, but I do still return to this album frequently. Nowadays it has a calming effect on me—catharsis through aggression, I guess. Even though I won’t be seeing them on this tour, which is a huge bummer, I can still pop on the headphones and spin Conquering the Throne at maximum volume. If I can’t blow out my hearing at the show, I might as well let the album do it for me.