Infernal Affairs: Erik Rutan confirms there’s still plenty of Hate Eternal to go around
dB Rating: 8/10
Release Date: August 24, 2015
Label: Season of Mist
You can nearly set your watch to it. Since 1999, singer/guitarist Erik Rutan and whomever he’s deemed worthy have put out a new Hate Eternal every three years. That it’s now been four years since the release of Phoenix Amongst the Ashes—in part due to roughly a year with no drummer—it may seem that Infernus would show the band finally fraying at the edges, like a Dismember T-shirt trimmed along its sleeves. But everyone knows that the shirt honestly looks even more badass now.
Most often a trio, the band’s not only been fairly dependable when it comes to their release schedule, but they’re still producing their own macerated brand of death metal—technically proficient riffs that never get mired in their own complexity, Rutan by all accounts still trying to write the theme song for an all-conquering horde. Fairly unknown Chason Westmoreland is the new machine behind the drum kit, trying to prove that he is able to bring more than ridiculously impressive blasting to the table, as shown on the title track, by far the slowest on the album and likely the best.
But despite Rutan’s continued expertise and the new guy’s drumming chops, one notable difference that separates this record from past output is the bass work. Living up to the expectations of a true power trio, bassist J.J. Hrubovcak has found a far more integral role here, going above and beyond staying in the pocket, or however you describe bland bass players. With minimal guitar overdubbing, he consistently commands the low end, and songs like “The Chosen One” are all meaty skronk that align closer with Man Is the Bastard’s four iron girders than anything from Scott Burns.
Going back to the title track, though, its existence does highlight one issue with the record— being so goddamn good that you wish the band dialed back the speed a little and let their skills with slower material come through some more. The closing track, “O’Majestic Being, Hear My Call,” decelerates in spots as well, and those sections are equally exceptional and mauling. It doesn’t diminish the impact of the shredding, but Rutan knows how to bleed out a melody, and that comes through much better when there’s a touch less grinding madness.
There’s the old saying that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, so if you were thinking Hate Eternal’s been playing it too safe with this death metal racket, you’ll only hear your point being cemented further. But for acolytes of the genre, Infernus is just a further purifying of brutality that will keep you satiated through the next however many years it takes for their next batch of songs.
— Shane Mehling
Review originally printed in the August 2015 issue (#130).