Hate Eternal — Upon Desolate Sands
My introduction to Hate Eternal was their 2002 full-length album, King Of All Kings, which I gave a pretty scathing review at the time. The tech death concept wasn't one I'd really opened up to, and the record felt far too cacophonous for my liking. I likely would have ignored the band completely from that point forward, if frontman Erik Rutan wasn't such a prolific artist and producer that his name kept coming up. A lot of time passed, my palate expanded, and I grew to appreciate the nuances of different flavours of death metal, and here are in 2018 with a brand new Hate Eternal record — a strong prompt to revisit my thoughts on the band.
Immediately, as "The Violent Fury" opens the album, the listener is waylaid with a blazing fast intro and the band is off to the races. No ambient or spoken word intro, Hate Eternal hit the ground running and don't let up much during the full 39 minutes of Upon Desolate Sands' duration. The band does switch gears on occasion, however; you're not beaten senseless with an unending assault of kick drums and frantic leads, discordant leads. Upon Desolate Sands grooves quite hard in some parts — especially "All Hope Destroyed" which alternates between furious blast beats and some exceptionally catchy riffs. For a band on their seventh full-length LP, the material sounds incredibly fresh and well-written; Hate Eternal come across like a veteran band in their prime on Upon Desolate Sands.
My initial reaction to this album was the polar opposite of how I felt about King Of All Kings, back when I was 19 years old. Obviously I am a very different person now, but death metal needs to hit a fairly high watermark to retain my interest for any significant length of time. Upon Desolate Sands is an excellent modern death metal record, incorporating the basics of the genre and sprinkling in some nice, chunky grooves, intra-song mid-tempo respites and even fleeting bits of melody. As expected, the production on this album is first rate, presenting some incredibly complex, technical material without stripping the humanity out of it all in the editing process. Rutan's vocals are competent, albeit very standard for the genre; the percussion is varied and never feels like the kick drum is incessantly clicking away; the riffs are top-shelf and you can even hear the bass in the mix!
Closing out the album is the instrumental "For Whom We Have Lost," which I really wish had been a longer cut. All told, Upon Desolate Sands is 8 tracks, if one excludes the 3:15 closer, and it feels like the perfect length for this record. The songs are all distinct, packed full of quality song-writing and featuring excellent performances. Death metal — especially when it veers into deeply technical territory — always risks sounding like an indistinguishable wall of noise, but Hate Eternal avoid this completely. There is nothing to complain about on this album, it's as good as it is concise. I'm also a sucker for instrumentals on metal records, so the band scores a few bonus points for that as well.
Death metal veterans Hate Eternal drop their latest full-length record, showing no signs of slowing down and showcasing evolved song-writing skills. If you're a music fan who just wants some unadulterated, raging death metal then Upon Desolate Sands fits that bill exactly. This record is no-frills, just straight up fury and mayhem; no ambient segues, non-traditional instrumentation, or clean singing — just buzzsaw riffs and grinding grooves in properly measured doses. For a band I dismissed as unoriginal and boring a decade-and-a-half ago, Hate Eternal knocked it out of the park with this one and I'm glad I gave them a second look.
Release date: October 26th, 2018
Record label: Season Of Mist Records
Erik Rutan — guitar, vocals
JJ Hrubovcak — bass
Hannes Grossmann — drums
- The Violent Fury
- What Lies Beyond
- Vengeance Striketh
- Nothingness Of Being
- All Hope Destroyed
- Portal Of Myriad
- Dark Age Of Ruin
- Upon Desolate Sands
- For Whom We Have Lost
Published: November 22nd, 2018.