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One could say that Erik Ruttan is like Walt Disney. The good Walt, after the commercial failure that was "Fantasia", is supposed to have said :
"People like crap, so I'll give them exactly what they want"
After the failure that was his short-lived Progressive Metal band Alas, Erik Ruttan, labelled "Death Metal Guitar God", seems to have decided to do the same :
"People want useless technical Brutal music, so I'll give them exactly what they want"
Thus said, the beginnings of Hate Eternal were far from being a failure, and "Conquering The Throne" was indeed very very promising. However, the illusion started to be dispelled when "King Of All Kings" was released, and "I, Monarch" struck the final blow : Hate Eternal is a band without songs. What we have here with "Fury & Flames" is something which is the strict definition of what is wrong in nowadays US Death scene. Technically awesome, with more brutality than in the full Mortician discography, a very clean and polished sound and strictly no soul. All songs sound exactly the same, and you could exchange this album with "I, Monarch" in your CD player, and no one would notice the difference. Worse still, the album sounds sterile. There is nothing in it that make "Fury & Flames" stand out as a distinct entity.
There was a time when Hate Eternal was considered a worthy challenger to Morbid Angel, but we must certainly not talk about the same band today. There's no fury, there's no flame and there's certainly not Death in this album. All there is is nearly 40 minutes of very very very demonstrative musicianship (like if we didn't knew already that those people in the band were good), with some dose of MTV brutality. The name is said : this album could be in heavy rotation on MTV, and considering what's liked in Metal in the USA nowadays, no one would mind it. This album is not brutal like Cannibal Corpse used to be, but more like Necrophagist is : you have the bad impression that this brutality is done not because of bad feelings and need to spit some anger, but just because it need to be brutal. This is Death Metal for yuppies and wiggers who don't know shit about Cianide, Mortician or even Immolation. This is a watered down version of Death Metal, not in the sense of the Melodeath, but in the idea that it all sounds like if it has been done by a bunch of advertising executives.
"Fury & Flames" has no balls, no spontaneity, nothing. This album could have been conceived on a computer, we wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Of course, you'll see up and there reviews being amazed at the technical level and the brutality of the music...but today, it seems that every Neo Death bands do the same, and thus sound the same. You can change the name on the CD cover for Job For A Cowboy, All That Remains or This Red Chord : there isn't any difference. There's no Hate left in, but considering that this album will likely be a commercial success, you can put your bet that there will still be the Eternal part left. And thus here's the final question : I wonder what have become of the US Death Metal scene. Because between the horrible Slam Deathcore style and the ultra-technical soulless wankery style, I can name but a few bands remembering that in Death Metal, there's the word Death.