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Hate Eternal Phoenix Amongst The Ashes

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Saturday, May 28, 2011 @ 2:49 AM

(Metal Blade)

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After the relatively free-form histrionics of their last album, 2008's Fury And Flames, where conventional song structures largely were forsaken in favor of raw intensity and abandon, death metal savant Erik Rutan and Hate Eternal bring things back to more solid ground with Phoenix. Where Fury served as a means for Rutan to exorcise what demons emerged from the 2006 death of friend and former bandmate Jared Anderson, Phoenix comes from a different place and it shows.

While still brutal as all hell, Phoenix feels less tormented and frantic – though “The Art of Redemption,” with its epileptic-fit leadwork and industrial-tinged, Voivod-like licks, is as much of a miasmic mind-fucker as the band have ever done. More typical are the title track, “The Eternal Ruler” or “Thorns of Acacia” that follow Jade Simonetto's scattergun drumming but are built around distinctive, surging riffing and actually have something of a verse-chorus-verse construction – although calling them catchy might be a bit of a stretch, especially given Rutan's layered, flame-throwing vocals. But with lyrical themes of rebirth/resurrection and the aforementioned redemption, Phoenix certainly has a more positive vibe to it.

Produced once again by Rutan at his Mana Recording Studios, and featuring new bassist J.J. Hrubovcak, Phoenix churns with the dense, somewhat roughshod sound that has been Hate Eternal's signature since their comparatively clinical debut Conquering The Throne a dozen years ago. Guitar and bass essentially blend together, becoming a sonic avalanche that only stops when it runs out of mountain. The martial “The Fire of Resurrection” and “Hatesworn” - which bears a slight resemblance to Morbid Angel's “Hatework” that Rutan co-wrote and performed on back in 1995 - are about as “slow” as things get here, and even their mid-tempo pacing finds Simonetto's working his kick drums into a lather.

Minus the wankery and progressive trappings of the new breed of tech-death/death-core/Sumerian-core, etc., pretenders to the throne, Hate Eternal show how to do death metal right with Phoenix. Punishing and turbulent, yet not too extreme for its own good, it hits the spot and hits it hard.

* * * ˝ (three and ˝ out of five stars)

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