Hate Eternal has always been a death metal band for people who just want death metal. And that’s what I’ve always liked about them as well. They’ve always seemed to be about no-frills or gimmicks, just brutal death metal. Of course, when you build your career upon such a reputation, you may encounter the danger of sounding monotonous and boring from album to album. But, a great death metal band is still a great death metal band, which Hate Eternal still proves they are with their latest album, Infernus.
To be completely fair and transparent, Infernus really offers nothing new outside of what is already established by Hate Eternal. It’s really just death metal. However, this is probably going to end up being my very favorite Hate Eternal album for all the right reasons.
This is most definitely Hate Eternal’s brand of death metal done the best way it possibly can be done. I think at least some of it can be attributed to the production value. To be honest, I’m not sure who produced the album, but I think it’s a pretty good and solid guess that it was Erik Rutan; the band’s guitarist and vocalist, and has also produced every Hate Eternal album thus far. And if it was, then this is definitely his finest work so far. The drum production is never overbearing or clicky, but punchy particularly in the snare when it needs it the most. Guitars are polished, but not too polished so as not to have removed all the grit and grime from a great death metal sound. It also helps all of his riffs sound distinct, rather than just a cacophonous mish-mash of sounds, especially when paired with blast beats. It all just sounds fantastic, and makes it easier to return to your favorite moments in the album.
Rutan’s vocals also sound much better on this album than any other. However, this I think is a new implemented technique and not so much the production. His lyrics are actually pretty understandable this time around. The band also has a new drummer on this record, Chason Westmoreland. No disrespect on previous drummer Jade Simonetto, but the drumming on Infernus is absolutely phenomenal. Sure, it’s mostly regular death metal fare of blast beats and double bass, but Westmoreland sounds completely engaged on every little thing Rutan is playing and makes sure to accent each of those little things. It’s just very smart, and is much more captivating than just playing a blast beat at 1000 bpm.
The band very much has a reputation for blistering speeds in their music, and Infernus is no different. “La Tempestad” is probably the most brutal song on the album. It’s so intense that it’s almost exhausting; it just never stops kicking the crap out of your eardrums over and over without a break. But there is also a good mix of slower, dirge-like songs as well, like the title track “Infernus.” It’s the longest track and is also definitely the slowest. It’s a good little respite, especially coming right after “La Tempestad,” and is a good little statement that Hate Eternal doesn’t need speed in order to be heavy. Another slower song, “Chaos Theory” is actually an instrumental, which is again a very welcome contrast. But make no mistake; Infernus is one heavy piece of metal. Right from the opening track, “Locust Swarm”, you get punched right in the gut with pure intensity and death metal brutality. All in all, Infernus is one huge masterful performance by one of the best death metal trios in the business.
Infernus is definitely one of, if not my very favorite, Hate Eternal album. There’s nothing too challenging or new to add to the palette of death metal, it’s just everything done the right way it possibly can be done. And it’s about time, since the last time we heard any new Hate Eternal was in 2011. Infernus was absolutely worth the wait, and I really can’t wait for the next one.