without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
The Positive :
Eric Rutans master plan has advanced and matured to untold levels of hatred, obscurity, brutality, maturity and technicality. The songs and ideas on this album are above most extreme bands out there, and take you to mind-boggling levels of metal insanity, as your brain tries to process exactly what you are hearing. The album roars open with the jaw-dropping terrifying "Hell Envenom", starting with a growl of the most pissed off barbaric vocals you will ever hear. With the death of Rutans ex bass player and good friend, I expected him to sound slightly more pissed off (if that was at all possible). Not only was it possible, but here he has achieved a new level within extreme metal and hatred as a whole, here Rutan sounds like Satan himself who just got mad and broke out of hell taking his anger out on gods green earth without let up. I have heard a lot of angry, sick and brutal vocals in my time, but this tops the list all-round as the most brutal, intense and aggressive vocals I have ever heard of any extreme band, full stop. As the roaring vocals briefly subside you are dragged through a rumbling double bass earthquake onslaught as the intro builds, which leads into some of the fastest blastbeats to ever be played, light-speed thundering bass and some of the most obscure guitar playing to be conjured by man. Song-wise there are actually too many to name favourites this time round! They all rule. Musically and concept-wise, this is the best Hate Eternal so far, and the most extreme - without a doubt. It's much more advanced, with longer songs (not boring), more thought put into them and insanely bizarre riffs which seemingly makes almost light work of past albums.
The Negative (The Production):
The same enjoyableness of the brutality is also a bit of a let down this time. The thing that lets this album down above anything, as has been pointed out by some already - is the production, and a seemingly trying-too-hard mindset. A lot of people don't realise that when you spend days, weeks recording the same thing over and over trying to perfect it - that your own ears can become almost dumbed down to what you are actually hearing. I think that is part of the problem with this album. I also believe the band has tried to make a brutal raw sound and went overboard in the process. The album is extremely heavy and raw, - but not in a brilliant way, it's overly-bassy, overly-triggered, just squashed and squeezed. I think they were trying to capture a more brutal primitive sound. Examples of how to-do this the right way: Old Repulsion, Old Napalm Death, and the best example of all for this - The 1997 Hate Eternal Demo "Engulfed In Grief". Yes, as a Hate Eternal fan, I am prepared to admit that the sound I think sounds best for hate eternal out of ALL their albums, is the messy unpolished harsh sound of their Demo! And I have a strange feeling that they were trying to recreate some of this original power and rawness - with modern gear and techniques. The only thing I can say to that is - mistake. You can't easily make an honest raw and brutal sound using modern, ultra-polished techniques equipment and gear, without coming across big issues. I would relate this trend of polished modern metal to CGI graphics in new films like Stars Wars, Lord of the Rings - it simply doesn't work. Digital gear and production does not hold the same honest, vibrant, authentic, and “kvlt” feeling of past analogue, tape, film etc. Obviously it's still possible to make great sound using modern digital gear, but I think it’s harder to make that raw chaotic sound - without it sounding fake/overblown! And this is unfortunately for me a prime example. Picking on individual things, the 2 worst things for me on this album production-wise which ruin it are the bass guitar and drums (it's easy to hear this by turning the music down very quietly and listening).
1) The drums are way too loud, bassy and muddy, sound too triggered and rubbery. The worst is the chosen snare drum - or maybe just how it's recording - sounds horrible. It sounds plastic, like the guy is playing 260bpm blastbeats on a tub of ice cream.
2) The bass on top of the muddy drums, you have Alex Websters lava-syrup-thick bass adding too the already bass-overblown sound to create a sloppy slippery monster of, you guessed it, bass! This might have worked better if the guitars were more audible in the mix, but without their presence it seems there’s a bit too much rumbling going on .
The vocals are clear and prominent enough, but the guitars are hidden in the background, buried under an avalanche of bass, barely audible at times, which is a shame because the riffs on this album are incredible - it just takes too many listens to be able to decipher them under the rubbery bass. Erics vocals have improved in fury as stated and he has been bold (although in my view not bold enough) using some subtle effects on the vocals (as per king of all kings intro) in places to create a strange vocal sound which adds in a great way. Anyone with a bit of know about the band knows that this is the first album with a new drummer and bass guitarist, and funnily enough they are the 2 worst things I have selected that ruin the production, get what I’m saying? It appears Mr Rutan has tried to give his new musicians too much room to breathe on this album, literally!
For a band who claimed to be the King of All Kings, leaders not followers, they are seemingly finding it hard to break free of trends within the underground scene. Whilst the musicianship and originality has improved a fair deal, it’s hard to appreciate that improvement because the music suffers overall due to the format in which it is presented - stopping it from being a possible masterpiece. It has not improved over previous works production-wise, it's actually worse, making it difficult to be able to comprehend and listen easily, or at all. Hate Eternals best, most authentic sound for me has and remains to be their 1997 Demo. Trying to create raw and chaotic brutal metal in a polished studio environment in my view is hard, especially when you add a tundra level of bass over everything. For fans of old it's still a very enjoyable listen with some amazing songs, you just have to get past/used to the production, which in some ways could be considered an acquired taste - after many listens I am actually starting to enjoy the rumbling bassyness, but I just wish it was more analogue sounding and not so plastic/rubbery. Because of the way it's presented, making it very hard to decipher, the negative outweighs the positive production-wise on this album in my view, which severely affects the way you perceive it.
To all music producers and the like - especially Eric, if you are reading this - I urge you (in the most positive constructive criticism possible) to give your ears a rest during production and offer the chance to have an advanced hearing of your works to someone, maybe a fan, an unsuspecting member of the public, anyone with enough knowledge and unbiased opinion to criticise and suggest areas that you could improve your final works before you release an album.