Review : HATE ETERNAL – "Phoenix Amongst The Ashes"

Hate Eternal Phoenix Amongst the Ashes
Release: 2010May10 (US)
Label: Metal Blade
Rating: 2.5/5

Everyone and their brother has heard culinary comparisons to songwriting (the “recipe to write a song” or some old jazz tune that features “two heaping cups of saxophone”). While it can be a terrible cliché, it does have it’s place. Take, for instance, Hate Eternal‘s latest release, Phoenix Amongst the Ashes. Erik Rutan picked up some fantastic ingredients, prepped all of the them using the finest tools in a state-of-the-art kitchen—but ended up using too much heat and cooked his dish for way too long. Let’s try a taste test, shall we?

I have never really cared for Hate Eternal. I don’t harbor any ill feelings towards them, I just find their material to be somewhat dull. According to the Internet, I am one of the few who thinks that way, as there are droves of glowing reviews praising them as some of the most “extreme” and “creative” death metal around. Phoenix is an album like all Hate Eternal albums:  full of potential, but crushed by drumming that shows minimal variation. This is disappointing because Erik Rutan is a smart, talented musician and producer. But a bombing raid of blast beats and turbo double bass covering up that strong performance is just a waste. What makes it even more strange is that he produces death metal albums and is very strict about getting everything perfect. For example, the drum sound he helped achieve on Nile‘s Those Whom the Gods Detest is phenomenal; then his own band releases a strong album that suffers from production/mixing issues. This is the very definition of a head-scratcher.

Outside of the drum assault, this album is solid. There are some great solos and good old-fashioned death metal riffery throughout. Rutan’s growls sound awesome and show a lot of enthusiasm, but it’s like trying to talk on your phone next to someone working a jackhammer. I know that extreme drumming is at an all-time high in popularity, and for death metal, chaotic speed and intensity is the name of the game. However, excessively fast double bass and blast beats from song to song will blend ten individually unique tracks into one long, forgettable, muddy listen.

I hate to knock a good effort, but this is what criticism is all about. Phoenix might fill you up, but I want more flavor. Maybe next time Hate Eternal could consider spicing up the simmering stew instead of burning the bird in the flames.

~Cole Dougherty


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