01. Hell Envenom
02. Whom Gods May Destroy
03. Para Bellum
04. Bringer Of Storms
05. The Funerary March
06. Thus Salvation
07. Proclamation Of The Damned
08. Fury Within
09. Tombeau (Le Tombeau De La Fureur Et Des Flammes)
2008 Metal Blade Records
For many, Hate Eternal's last album, I, Monarch, was quite possibly one of the most searing and extraordinary displays of death metal virtuosity captured on record in recent memory. It represented a sort of creative high water mark, the pinnacle of what a death metal band—given the gathering of such amazingly talented musicians—could accomplish. Naturally, I had more than a few misgivings whether Erik Rutan (the evil genius behind Hate Eternal) would be able to craft a worthy follow-up record, one that could effectively pick up where I, Monarch left off, both musically and thematically. I am happy to report that Hate Eternal's latest offering, Fury and Flames, is by and large their most blistering release to date; a savage, jarring, and infinitely deep slab of death metal goodness.
The title, Fury and Flames, is a tribute to the late Jared Anderson (Fury and Flames was his MySpace handle), best friend of Rutan and former bassist for Hate Eternal. "The whole thing became," writes Rutan in a recent interview, "not only an important record for me, but something that I wanted to honor him, so it represents a big part of Jared." To be sure, there is a startling degree of mournfulness invoked at certain points of the record, one that can be directly attributed to coping with the loss of a loved one. But more often than not, the sadness of Jared's death becomes subsumed in the utter barrage of blast beats and extremely caustic, atonal riffage that has come to define Hate Eternal's sound.
For this record, Rutan recruited longtime friend Alex Webster (of Cannibal Corpse fame) to play bass, found a new drummer (to replace the inimitable Derek Roddy) in Jade Simonetto, and added second guitarist Shaune Kelly, who Rutan played with in his first band, Ripping Corpse. Accordingly, there is somewhat of a palatable difference in Hate Eternal's sound between this record and the last. For starters, there is an almost grossly atonal technicality to the riffs on Fury and Flames reminiscent of the Origin record Informis, Infinitas, Inhumanitas. The album opener "Hell Envenom" begins with a cacophony of Rutan-esque death metal gurgles before slowly building momentum with Hate Eternal's new and improved heavier-than-heavy rhythm section, culminating in an explosive frenzy of dissonant speed picking that could be the soundtrack to insect warfare or your worst epileptic seizure. Words fail to convey the almost otherworldly intensity of this music. Alex Webster lends a formidable depth and degree of precision to the low-end. As for Derek Roddy's replacement, Mr. Simonetto has eschewed the deathcore sound of his other band, Camilla Rhodes, for an astonishing display of speed, accuracy, and technicality that effectively dispels any misgivings that Hate Eternal had somehow regressed in losing Roddy. The kid can play. Finally, the interplay between guitarists is phenomenal; songs like "the Funerary March" and "Tombeau (le Tombeau de la Fureur et des Flames)" showcase some of the most stunning soloing of Rutan's storied career.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference between this record and the last is the quality of recording. "Muddy" is not the operative word: Fury and Flames is an extraordinarily bass heavy, absolutely pummeling record. Whereas Rutan's previous productions situated the guitars and vocals more towards the front of the mix at the expense of the drums and bass, Fury and Flames places significant emphasis on the sheer force of the rhythm section, the end result being a record that will test the acoustic wherewithal of your stereo system. While definitely a step up from I, Monarch, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that at times, some of the riffs become indecipherable, lost in a clusterfuck of blast beats and murky bass. But these moments are few and far between and as a whole, the recording is a perfect counterpoint to the intensity of the music.
Bottom Line: Over the past ten years, Hate Eternal has consistently released some of the most exciting, creative, and extreme death metal. Fury and Flames is no exception. Once again, Erik Rutan has crafted a record of considerable depth, a worthy follow-up to I, Monarch and a fitting tribute to his late friend.