Hate Eternal - Infernus 01Last time Hate Eternal graced the digital halls of AMG, they left Steel Druhm throbbing with excitement and elation and in turn he gave 2011’s Phoenix Amongst the Ashes a near-perfect score. Four years later it appears something has throttled the throbbing, as their latest full-length Infernus was dropped on my desk alongside a wonderful lack of punitive metalcore. While I can definitely say I had me a blast (well over thirty minutes of them, in fact), Hate Eternal didn’t give me the same summer lovin’ as they did Steel. Solely in the context of this review, I’d go as far as saying that particular summer fling didn’t mean a thing. I’ll stop dawdling and dive headlong into the hurricane and tell you more.

Being that Erik Rutan is still very much at the helm of the good ship Hate Eternal, Infernus deals in fast and aggressive Florida death metal that draws primarily from later Morbid Angel but is less experimental and more tightly and meticulously controlled. New drummer Chason Westmoreland passes the endurance test that is Rutan’s material and musical vision, keeping the traditional wealth of blast beats that helps define Hate Eternal’s sound alive and well. Their trademark angular and almost atonal riffing is present and accounted for, but there’s been further exploration of the straightforwardly melodious aspects of “The Fire of Resurrection” and “Tombeau” that’s a noticeable yet small tinkering with the band’s tried and true sound. They’re not slowly morphing into Mors Principium Est, but fans of the band’s prior work will pick up on this.

Thankfully this minor adjustment works for the band, with “Locust Swarm” commencing the assault in a strong fashion. It surges out of the gate and does business as usual quite well before closing on a ever-slowing melodic guitar line. It works, isn’t cheesy, and doesn’t have the aftertaste of herring via pilfered Bjorriffs. The Hate Eternal we know and have an opinion on doesn’t disappoint either, with “Zealot, Crusader of War” and “The Chosen One” doing exactly what’s expected, albeit with good enough songwriting to keep the proceedings engaging. Things take an interesting turn with the title track, featuring melodic leads aplenty and a shifting tempo that reaches a nearly glacial pace by Hate Eternal standards. The layered melodies are almost death-doom in sound, and it works surprisingly well within their template. I wouldn’t want a whole record of this, but it goes a long way toward preventing Infernus from being a veritable panzer division of endless blast beats. “O’ Majestic Being, Hear My Call” sees Rutan adding some well-placed black metal elements into his guitar work, and it makes for a solid closing number that nicely ties things off with a melancholic lead similar to the finale of their last record.

Hate Eternal - Infernus 02

The biggest gripe I have about Infernus is coincidentally my biggest gripe about Hate Eternal: they’re a band of truly excellent players making merely good music. I’m always happy to hear what these guys come up with, but I’ve never found their music to be absolutely necessary listening for death metal.”Order of the Arcane Scripture” will have you wondering what part of I, Monarch you’re being reminded of instead of making a strong impression of its own, and the instrumental “Chaos Theory” comes across as more self-indulgent than anything; it’s not a wanky shitshow a la Brain Drill, but it does little more than impress on a technical level upon repeat listens. “La Tempestad” is the most skippable track here by virtue of the ceaseless and unchanging blasts (save quick fills) from Westmoreland exacerbating Rutan’s most stock riffing present and vice versa.

Even taking the above criticisms into account, I like Infernus. It’s not at all a disappointment, and improves upon the production of Phoenix Amongst the Ashes by giving bass wunderkind J.J. Hrubovcak the pronounced spot in the mix his fantastic playing deserves. It’s loud in the mastering department as per Rutan’s usual standards, but his notable skill behind the boards won’t give you a throbbing headache even at DR6. Fans, they haven’t let you down. Detractors, they won’t be changing your minds. As for me, I’ve been enjoying this record for the competent death metal it presents and will spin it occasionally throughout the year when I’m in the mood for a face-destroying Floridian attack that doesn’t involve copious amount of bath salts. Put succinctly, Infernus is good.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist Records
Websites: hateeternal.bandcamp.com | hateeternal.com | facebook.com/hateeternal
Releases Worldwide: August 21, 2015

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  • euthanatos

    well, the featured track is really good…. at least, I thought so

  • Tom Hardy

    Yeah, I’ve been meaning to check it out and that’s a nice write up, promising. All that’s left is to wait for that pre-order to ship.

    What do you think of this one, Steel Druhm?

    • Sadly I haven’t had a chance to sit down with this and get properly battered. I’m looking to dive in this week.

    • Kronos

      As someone who is not Steel Druhm, I can confirm that it sounds like Hate Eternal. I have basically the same opinion of the band in general as Diabolus; they’re really talented musicians and their writing is generally good, (they’re decent live as well) but nothing the band has ever done is that remarkable. If you think their music is remarkable, you’ll like this. If you don’t you can skip it.

      • Luke_22

        Yeah I’m pretty much on the same page, reliably solid but rarely exceptional and I lean towards quite a few other bands for my tech-death fix. That said, I will delve into this more and give it a good shake.

  • 517H

    I’m quite looking forward to this album and the new Nile. Teasers for both have sounded promising.

    Props to the well placed MPE reference, Diabolus

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Oh hey someone DID give that Soulfly cover to a more deserving band.

    • Here’s Johnny

      Who judges what covers bands are deserving of? Elitist knobheads like you?

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Its tried and tested, its good. Period for me.

  • Respectfully disagree.

    Having never listened to Hate Eternal before, I’ve had the official album stream on repeat all week long. I DIG this album. I’d rate it a 3.5-4.0

  • Worldeater

    I lost track of Hate Eternal after their- in my opinion splendid release King Of All Kings in 2002 (yes – I am that old) and could not get warm to the relentless blasting of their later albums. But with Infernus there is enough variation to get me interested again. Great review of an good album.

  • While I’d like to see a 4.5 for any Hate Eternal release, I really can’t argue with any of the very legitimate points raised in the review. For a band that I’ve followed since the beginning, I am quite impressed with how accurately the band’s shortcomings have been characterized here.

    Some things I would add to the review : Hate Eternal has lost a step or two at their own ‘wall of blast beats’ game to some more recent bands (e.g. Hour of Penance) that make the blasts here seem leisurely in comparison. Also, the first few Hate Eternal albums had some more melody as well, which made them a bit more listenable ( the latest Hour of Penance is also doing this quite well ).

  • darksvn

    I’ve always hated the production on most Hate Eternal albums, and on this one all of the instruments finally get their due. Maybe the claustrophobic production on earlier releases was intentional but the music was so buried it was hard to enjoy. Also their blasts seemed to be just a wall of blasting, not really built into strong songwriting.

    Now I’m starting to truly hear them, and I like it. I like the structures of the songs better here too. Though they still have a love for the Wall ‘O Blasts. I guess there’s sometimes a place for it. So far this may be the best I’ve heard from them yet.

  • Pieter van der Ploeg

    Never really liked the production of the HE albums since king of all kings. Messy sound, vocals too loud and the guitars are way too much in the background.