Hate Eternal // Phoenix Amongst the Ashes
Rating: 4.5/5.0 —Erik Rutan destroys the universe
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: hateeternal.com | myspace.com/haeteternal
Release Dates: EU: 2011.05.09 | US: 05.10.2011

Holy sheeeit man! I know the world sucks, times are hard and most people are dicks but whatever is pissing Erik Rutan off must be way worse than anything I’ve ever put up with. The clearly enraged Mr. Rutan and crew are back with another Hate Eternal platter of overly brutal death metal and this one’s a real doozy folks. While Hate Eternal always used and abused the basic Florida death metal sound pioneered by the mighty Morbid Angel (Erik contributed on some of their prime albums) and Deicide, Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is in a whole different league of sonic blight. This is some profoundly heavy, blasting, pummeling death played at light speed with very bad intentions. Offering little in the way of melody, catchiness or human compassion, you get nine songs akin to an aural carpet bombing. To say this is merely brutal is to do it a great disservice. This is enormously brutal and bordering on unlistenable. Even some die-hard death fans may throw up their hands at this album and say enough! It’s that crazy.

After a short intro, you’re throw into a world of almost nonstop blast beats, atonal, unusual riff phrasing, jarring, nerve jangling solos, off kilter time signatures, crazy harmonies and relentlessly horrific grunting and screaming by Rutan. Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is an album that fully embodies the phrase “wall of sound” and it’s brilliant, overwhelming and nearly too much to take. The title track and closer “The Fire of Resurrection” are the most accessible, and I’m using that term very broadly here, with a slightly dialed back speed and sense of order. Others like “The Eternal Ruler” and “Haunting Abound” are brutal, merciless death of the heaviest and faster kind imaginable. “Haunting Abound” in particular hurls a lot of punishment with it’s nervous, uneasy Voivod-like stutter step and exceedingly evil vocals. At the 2:27 point it has a sudden, ominous break followed by a seizure inducing black metal riff that buzzes like an insect before transforming into tortured soloing. It’s exquisitely punishing. The title track has that classic Morbid Angel sound with a healthy dose of Behemoth to boot. It features blackened riffs and some of the coolest soloing and harmonies, especially as the song winds down. The frenetic solo that leads off “The Art of Redemption” is shrill, painful and the musical equivalent of chewing on aluminum foil.  By the time this album runs it’s destructive course, most will be so beaten and disoriented they’ll need a long vacation away from Hate Eternal.

Hate Eternal by Aly WebsterThere’s so much going on here at such ridiculous speeds that it takes many spins to pick out the details and nuances, of which there are many because it’s a surprisingly technical album (the first listen results in a “WTF was that?” kinda feeling but keep at it). The production is solid enough and for the most part everything can be heard amidst the swirling chaos (although the bass is muted at times). Huge credit has to be given to Rutan’s over-the-top, completely unhinged guitar work here. From the bazillion riffs he shoves down your throat to the numerous solos that evoke dread, rage and hate while still maintaining a vague sense of melody, he does a masterful job on Phoenix. Equally impressive is the unbelievable drumming by Jade Simonetto. His nonstop hurricane of blasts, rolls and fills is a thing of wonder. He should be dissected and studied closely.

My only criticism here is the lack of variety in tempo. A little more would have helped allow for catching one’s breath and differentiating the songs more. Because its goes full speed 95% of the time, the songs tend to bleed together and become one raging blur. However, it’s a rock solid blur and intense as all hell.

A triumph for Rutan and company, Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is definitely one of the heaviest albums ever to belch from the slimy depths. This truly separates the men from the boy and even if you end up hating this, it can still be used for weed killing, insect and neighbor repellent and curing the chronically sane. If you crave something beyond brutal and depraved, here it is. I hope the upcoming Morbid Angel album can compete with this but doubt it. There are no winners here, only survivors.