Given the current state of death metal and American death metal in particular, one can argue without much difficulty that it’s a healthy scene. Record labels are at a reasonable count and they seem to provide a wide range of death metal at a consistent pace to maintain whatever waning grasp they have on the ever so slimming attention span of today’s youth. So in a setting such as this, it may seem odd for a death metal band like Florida’s Hate Eternal to take more than four years to put a new album out. Yet one should note that the band went through a change of label, from Metal Blade to Season of Mist, and found a new drummer in 26 year old Chason Westmoreland; all that when added to Erik Rutan’s already busy schedule of producing, mixing and guest-featuring on dozens of other albums justifies the four year wait for Infernus.
The kind of intense, slap in the face, death metal for which Hate Eternal is known is in no short supply on this forty five minute opus. This is a riff-heavy affair through and through which makes it a rather demanding listen as Rutan ceaselessly blazes through each track. The barrage begins with the opening piece ‘Locust Swarm‘ as it lays down the law with monstrous riffs which are followed by a vicious slow-down that completes a stellar opening to the album. With a main riff that harkens back to the earlier forms of death metal ‘The Stygian Deep‘ chugs on with fervent energy and frantic, almost misanthropic, lead guitar work while ‘La Tempestad‘ rages tempestuously for a little under four minutes, leaving the listener hungry for more; and that’s when the title track strikes.
This record’s title track is easily the darkest, most sinister piece and it is cleverly placed in the middle of the album as a peak among the valleys. It boasts some brilliant guitar layering as one chugs and the other soars gloriously above everything else. Then comes ‘Zealot, Crusader of War‘ with its enticing yet almost covert guitar solo. Which raises the intriguing point of how cleverly integrated the guitar solos are on this album. It seems that on most tracks, the attention is almost deliberately diverted away from the guitar solos, as if their only reason for existence is to dissolve into the rest of the song. This prevails until the ending piece ‘O Majestic Being Hear My Call‘ which dramatically concludes the album with a dramatic guitar solo that stands out from the pack.
Hate Eternal is obviously a band with nothing to prove to anyone. Yet among its legions of devoted fans, the ever increasing weight of expectations has lingered for a long time, only for them to be presented with this fiery Infernus; an anger-laden avalanche of vicious riffs and senseless drumming all encased in a crisp but just muddy enough production job. The fact that Eric Rutan has been so involved in the various stages of the music making process for the better part of the last two decades has made him a master of refinement in an age of clutter, and that clearly comes through the compositions of Hate Eternal.
Hate Eternal’s Infernus gets…