Splayed across six full lengths, Hate Eternal have more than proven their spot high atop the mountain of thinking man’s death metal (hell, who am I kidding – their debut Conquering the Throne did that on its own). It’s not overly anything; technical but with a point, brutal but not without a reason to be, and energetic at ALL times. On their seventh effort, Upon Desolate Sands, the only thing that’s different is a peak into slower melodies which – no surprise here – Rutan and Co. rule with an iron fist. Don’t mistake that for ‘lax’ or ‘pulling back’ because that simply isn’t in this band’s wheelhouse. It is just their way of progressing within their own sound and it damn well works like a champ.
Here’s where I could regale you with tall tales of Erik Rutan’s past in Ripping Corpse and Morbid Angel or his laundry list of guest sessions and oh yea, he owns Mana Recording Studios and has produced some of the heaviest hitting metal on the planet. But when it comes to a new Hate Eternal album and conversations begin, everyone knows the stories, the score, and that a new album will rule. So let’s instead focus on Upon Desolate Sands since that’s why you came and why I’m writing these words anyway.
A new Hate Eternal album has always been an event worth celebrating for me. I mean, it’s the kind of thing that, like Mötorhead, you just now you’re getting quality and you know it will be outstanding but the inner workings of each album remain to be seen until the veil is lifted. Once the veil of Upon Desolate Sands is lifted “Vengeance Striketh” might just be the most forceful statement of death supremacy in quite sometime. It has the Rutan groove, jackhammer percussion that rattles rib cages and a nice high pitched guitar outro that’s ‘chills down the spine’ worthy. “Portal of Myriad” gives up some of the same but again with those guitars and this time we hear some of the slower paced stuff I mentioned previously and even a bit of that melody. The title track is a cut Morbid Angel only wishes they could pull off these days and “For Whom We Have Lost” keeps the intensity levels high while the intricate and passionate guitar work plays with emotions. You can almost feel the sorrow as one bridge feeds into the next and it’s here that you really get to see just how much of a god Rutan is when given space to roam.
All that and we haven’t even mentioned what an opening statement “The Violent Fury” is. It has one of the sickest rhythm lines I’ve ever heard in a Hate Eternal track. As if we needed anymore proof that this band is essential death metal we get it anyway but nothing’s really changed there at all. Picking a favorite album out of the seven is like trying to pick a favorite child or a favorite bourbon out of your top choices. And even though I’m not sure they’ve topped Infernus here it really doesn’t matter because, just like every album thus far, the band tries a few new things and they just work. And it rules. Hard. Every damn time.
I’m currently working on something where I make the statement that we need more Florida in death metal so thank the stars above or the fires below for bands like Hate Eternal that make my wishes come true on each and every new album. High praise? Damn right. Take a listen with the volume at painful levels and get back to me if you disagree.