Released: 2008, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Slowly and methodically, Erik Rutan has worked his way into the collective death metal brotherhood fronting Hate Eternal. His past experiences in Ripping Corpse and Morbid Angel were merely a hint at what brutality Rutan was capable of and when 1999’s CONQUERING THE THRONE was first unleashed, it quietly planted the seed. KING OF ALL KINGS and I, MONARCH continued forging the band’s presence as a heavyweight in the extreme metal field boasting swirling hellstorms of shredded guitar runs and blastbeats with Rutan’s guttural bellows and roars at the front of it all. On the band’s fourth album, FURY AND FLAMES, Rutan once again sounds infernally nasty but for different reasons. Long-time friend—and former Hate Eternal bassist—Jared Anderson died just prior to the writing of FURY AND FLAMES and Rutan’s lyrics are filled with his anger and emotions. This is also the band’s first album with Metal Blade Records after leaving Earache Records following the release of 2005’s I, MONARCH, so FURY AND FLAMES is both a new beginning for the band and a tribute to the past.
Cannibal Corpse’s Alex Webster filled the bass guitar duties and his virtuosity really adds a new angle to Hate Eternal’s music. It is kind of like Steve DiGiorgio’s signature sound on Death’s INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS; you can just feel that added extra. The insidious thump of Webster’s bass on opener “Hell Envenom” rides a blazing, post-solo section that is jaw-dropping. Like his former bandmate in Morbid Angel, Trey Azagthoth, Rutan adds plenty of melody to the intricacies of his riffs and solos. The speedy tremolo-picking on “Hell Envenom” is perilously close to the throes of black metal but injected with a diving melody. “Bringer of Storms” is just as dazzling with a trade-off solo between Rutan and Shaune Kelley (formerly of Ripping Corpse, as well) that is complex, technical and groovy all at once. New drummer Jade Simonetto (also in Canadian metalcore newbies, Camilla Rhodes) provides a scorching backdrop to “Para Bellum” and “Proclamation of The Damned” with a torrent of blastbeats, double bass and the use of excellent fills. The merciless “Fury Within” tears along at a blazing pace before culminating in a double-tracked vocal assault from Rutan that echoes the most demonic works of fellow Floridians, Deicide. “Tombeau” (French for “tombstone”) is an ode to Anderson, Rutan’s surprisingly heartfelt lyrics on full display (“You have now passed on from this world/So unjust, so cruel and uncaring…Blessed be my brother/Blessed be my friend”) as you can hear his own grief and frustration. The operatic outro, “Coronach,” is a bit out of place but this experimentation and genre-bending was also toyed with on I, MONARCH’s title track.
A new label, a new lineup and the loss of an old friend and bandmate has certainly given Erik Rutan something to work with and FURY AND FLAMES is the result of two years of changes, tragedy and evolution. This is not a tremendous musical stretch for Hate Eternal in regards to the band’s previous output and they stay pretty close to a tried and true formula. Like I, MONARCH, the production is significantly better than on the first two albums but full-throttle speed remains the name of the game. The twisting, melodic guitar work is a definite highlight as always and with Alex Webster on board, the thick bottom end resonates immediately. Look for FURY AND FLAMES to continue Hate Eternal’s rise to the upper tier of the death metal heap because this is a strong, consistent album from one of the genre’s heavyweights.
KILLER KUTS: “Hell Envenom,” “Para Bellum,” “Bringer of Storms,” “Proclamation of The Damned,” “Fury Within,” “Tombeau”