Review – Hate Eternal: Infernus

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Season of Mist Records
  • Release Date: August 21st, 2015
  • Genre: Death Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

When it comes to the death metal field, the name Hate Eternal has become one of the most respected to erupt in the past ten or so years, mostly due to the members involved. Currently composed of founding guitarist/vocalist Erik Rutan (ex-Morbid Angel, ex-Alas), J.J. Hrubovcak (J.J. Hrubovcak, Divine Rapture), as well as drummer Chason Westmoreland (Burning the Masses, ex-Oceano) who joined in 2014, the entity that has existed since 1997 and recently signed with Season of Mist Records to unleash their sixth studio full-length effort, Infernus. But does it stand proud as a far suprior offering following the not-so-well received 2008 album Fury & Flames and 2011’s Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, or does it fail to deliver an impact remotely close to their 2005 success I, Monarch?

Like any recent Hate Eternal album, this one sounds pretty crisp overall, but far from reaching the point of sterilization. The guitars have a strong buzz to them that is supported by a deep metallic twang on the bass guitar. The two helping to create an allure similar to that of a traditional swedish death metal effort, not to mention weave a somewhat heated and nightmarish atmosphere that the pristine drums only enhance due to the varying speeds, not to mention a decent amount of variety compared to previous outings thanks largely to Chason’s skill than anything else. In turn, his strengths breathe additional life to the mix that other recent entries were sorely lacking. The best way to sum it up is to picture anything that Dan Swanö has engineered in the past ten years, and you’ll have a good idea as to what this album sounds like.

For the most part, Infernus is your standard Hate Eternal album. It’s full of hostility and varying atmospheres with an obvious blackened touch throughout. “The Stygian Deep” has plenty of hooks littered about that give the performance a bit of a sinister touch amid the brutality, and the opening track “Locust Swarm” pummels the listener with the exact fury the title depicts. But then there’s the twisted “The Chosen One”, which starts off like an absolutely unmovable force with how heavy and tense the opening is. The bass and guitar work together to create an oddly mechanical souding start that is monolithic in a way, complimented by some technical crawling of the guitar neck, slowing things down to exhert it’s dominance over you even further until caving to the traditional Hate Eternal structure of blast beats off and on until the very end.

Of course, the signature Hate Eternal blast beat presence is still abound. “La Tempestad” varies between that style, which does become more hellish with random bouts of militaristic marches through the steady bass kicks of the drum kit, as well as the aforementioned bass guitar twang. That latter instrument completely dominates the mix, essentially turning the guitars into more of a supporting role much of the time with held notes or simpler black/death metal structures that aid in the overall performance, coming off like a mixture of Origin brutality with Marduk or even modern Behemoth blackened command. It isn’t anything all that unique to the field, really, but damn if it isn’t just one wild whiplash inducing ride you won’t soon forget. But, these type of tracks aren’t all that make up this album. Much of this can also sum up “O’ Majestic Being, Hear My Call”, though some of the hooks can lead to some surprisingly depressing moments.

Hate Eternal

Finally there’s the title track, “Infernus”, which finds Erik channeling his Morbid Angel roots a bit. The slower paced performance does find some quicker fills and crashes from the drums, but the overall song comes off dark and gloomy, burdening the listener from start to finish with a random hint of supremacy in the hooks leading into the worship-littered passage about half way through. Similar environments do exist through the album from time to time, but this is really the only track that focuses in on it for so long, and it’s a welcome reprieve from the blistering assault found on the other nine. In fact, it makes you long for the olden days of Covenant and Domination.

Infernus is a strong album that neatly blurs the worlds of blackened metal with straight forward death metal hostility, leaving behind one of the strongest releases in the Hate Eternal discography to date. Aside solid compositions and performances, there’s a lot to factor into just why that is, such as the top notch mastering, production and engineering of this outing, as well as the loss of drummer Jade Simonetto who, quite honestly, was part of the reason these recordings wound up sounding fairly robotic and unimpressive for a while. Chason’s presence immediately feels like a perfect fit, especially as far as the energy on display is concerned, which there is plenty of from everyone involved. So if you’ve been put off by the band as of late, or even still enjoyed their recent outings, Infernus immediately redeems the group once more, and will leave you crawling back for more.

Hate Eternal

Digital review copy of this release provided by Season of Mist Records.