Since 1997, Hate Eternal has been one of the defining voices of brutal, technical death metal. Along with fellow masters Nile and Necrophagist, the band has helped to pioneer a heavily influential sound that spawned dozens of admirers and separate sub-genres. Hate Eternal just wrapped up a tour in support of its new album, Infernus, so I got in touch with bassist J.J. Hrubovcak to ask him about the reaction to the new record, and to find out what keeps the band going while on tour.
Hey JJ, congrats on the new record! How do audiences seem to be reacting so far to Infernus?
We've had an overwhelmingly positive response to this record. It is very dynamic and takes a journey through different tempos with all of the aggression you've come to expect. The production is fantastic. You can hear everything – every bass note, all the picking, every inflection of the vocals. The guitar and drum tones are very full and big. The bass tone has a huge body and a great attack. I'm also proud that I was able to write so much music on guitar for this record as well as two songs of lyrics. I've been in the band almost 8 years now and we are in the zone and it shows on this album.
How heavily are you guys leaning on the new record for this tour? Any interesting old or lesser-known songs being thrown into the mix?
We have a good mix of new and old tunes in this set. We play the classic staples like "I, Monarch" and "King of all Kings" and we also pull out an older tune here and there depending on the whim of the day. For instance, we played "By His Own Decree" a few days ago. From the new album, we play "Locust Swarm", "Stygian Deep", "Pathogenic Apathy", "Zealot Crusader of War", and "Infernus". We are planning to interchange others in the future.
The band has been around for a long time now, where do you and Erik look for inspiration now to keep your riffs and ideas fresh?
Inspiration comes from everyday life. I mentioned to someone else that I feel that each record is a snapshot in time. It represents all of your life experiences in those moments. Each record unfolds on its own from those experiences.
You've been playing in death metal bands since the mid-90s. How was it when you started out with Divine Rapture? A lot of people think of that time as a low point for death metal and metal in general, did it feel like that at the time?
It didn't feel like that because we were steadily gaining traction and our fanbase was growing at an aggressive pace. We recorded a successful demo at Rutan's original studio in a warehouse in Florida which led to our album release on Listenable Records. We ignored all of the talk because of our love for the music. I'm sure many of the bands from that time period will tell you the same thing. The buzz was that death metal was dead but history proved that sentiment wrong. Out of that period came bands like Nile, Origin and of course Hate Eternal.
What do you do to keep your energy level high while on tour? Do you find it gets easier or more difficult as the leg reaches its end?
Coffee! We have a coffee machine that we use with an inverter. Couple that with the fact that we just love this shit and you've got high energy all tour! Keep in mind that it also depends on how you take care of yourself at home. If you eat junk and never work out, you will have a harder time. At some point we were bringing an olympic bar on the road with a full set of free weights and using amp cases as the bench!