Hate Eternal- Infernus

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, October 3, 2015

I’ve enjoyed just about everything that Hate Eternal has put out in their almost two decade long career, even though albums like Fury & Flames lost some of their luster in the years following their release. In recent years Erik Rutan and company have been focused on sheer walls of sound that blasted away at listeners, sometimes to the point of repetition. Fury & Flames was divisive for this reason (as well as a drum heavy production), while 2011’s Phoenix Amongst the Ashes was met with a slightly warmer reception. Since that time drummer Jade Simonetto has left and Chason Westmoreland has joined the establish lineup of Rutan and bassist J.J. Hrubovcak. The resulting effort, Infernus, finds Hate Eternal still offering that trademark wall of sound and blast beat driven death metal but there’s a considerable amount of variation when compared to their last few albums and it makes a significant difference.

One of the biggest differences that listeners will notice between Infernus and previous full lengths is the production. Erik Rutan’s always been behind the boards for each of the band’s releases, and in recent years he has experimented with different approached. This is easily the most balanced that a Hate Eternal record has been in a while, as not only are the guitars given emphasis but you can actually hear the bass this time around. Giving equal emphasis to the guitar and crunchier bass lines makes a big difference, as it allows the details to break through the sheer wall of sound and makes it easier to pick out one song from the next. The other change is that the songwriting doesn’t seem to have been written as a marathon anyway, as the entire album isn’t a barrage of blasting that wears the listener down over a forty minute span, and I’m saying this as someone that liked the group’s previous two full lengths at the time of their release but found that they lacked staying power in the years that followed. Infernus switches things up a lot more than I was initially anticipating, letting occasional melodic leads and respites from the blasting sneak in that help to significantly break things up. There’s quite a bit of substance to the riffing, and Westmoreland proves to be a capable addition to the band by adding in some nuances to the drumming that deviate from the constant blast beat. With plenty of standout riffs and blistering solos, this is Hate Eternal at their best and likely to appeal to anyone that likes this type of death metal.

Quite a bit may have changed as far as the instrumentals and production goes, but Rutan’s vocal work has stayed at around the same general pitch for the band’s entire career so if you’ve heard any of their previous albums you should have an idea of what to expect. His lower pitched growl is fairly prominent in the overall mix, and it continues to mesh up perfectly with the swirling guitar and bass. There are also some higher pitched backup screams from J.J. Hrubovcak that appear from time to time, though they’re mainly added in to give an extra flourish of intensity to particular sections rather than being given the spotlight. In this case familiarity works to the band’s favor, as it’s another energetic performance from Rutan and his growls haven’t lost any of their intensity over the years.

I gave both Fury & Flames and Phoenix Amongst the Ashes very positive reviews when they came out, but found both records didn’t stick with me quite as much in the years that followed. Infernus isn’t likely to run into this issue, as it’s more reminiscent of the band’s earlier material where there was a bit more substance and variation rather than just relentless blasting that pummeled the listener into submission. That’s not to say that Hate Eternal has lost their edge by any means, but there are now slight ventures into melodic passages and mid-tempo sections that inject some much needed variety into the group’s heavy hitting repertoire and that makes this album a highlight in their discography.

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