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First of all, I would like to start this by saying this album is immediately, noticeably 10 times better due purely to the production. More on that in a moment.
Musically this album is pretty damn awesome. It is more along the lines of more traditional Hate Eternal in terms of sticking to raw, pummeling, shredding traditional death metal brutal approach with normal instruments and more standard drumming approach which is good.... less bongo drums and other strange oddities added in from Derek Roddy. I think you can get more than enough weird sounds out of traditional guitars and drums and traditional playing styles etc, so I'm glad they've taken this route. The songs rip through with some amazing and memorable phrasing. Most of the songs are pretty memorable and excellent. This really does sound like the "Rebirth" of the band, as per the title of the first track which is a nice introduction. Excellent.
The Negative (The production, again)
The biggest issue I have with his album is once again the production, but this time I am focusing solely on the production of the drums. The guitars and bass/vocals etc. sound pretty nice on this one to me, or at least not noticeably distracting, but the drums still need a lot of work. They are very "off" and distracting somehow to me.
I am not a production expert by any means, I just know what sounds good and what sounds off as a fan. And as someone else mentioned "the drumming is always much too high in the mix, to the point that it really drowns out everything else going on". This sounds true to me also.
The drums sound too loud, too compressed, and too overproduced? Something along those lines. And once again, the sound of them is pretty muddy too. It's the same drums as used on the last album I can tell, just slightly better produced - but the snare is poop. As I said last album, the snare sounds like blasting an ice cream tub! It's SHAT.... for god sake guys, please change your snare drum. The tone of the snare and instruments going in is surely more important than the mastering and producing you do to it after.
You can have the greatest studio in the world and the greatest producers in the world, but if the sound going in is not both good AND, perhaps more importantly, complements the other instruments, it's going to be 1000 times harder to get a nice mix surely - that's just logic. So when I say the snare sounds like blasting on an ice cream tub, that means it is bad, perhaps very bad. The mud of the snare drum mixes with the mud of the double bass drums and just creates a blur of.... you guessed it.... MUD. And the toms sound a bit muddy themselves somehow, so they need looking at too.
Top this with a drummer who sounds not really ready to play insane 280bpm machine tight like Derek Roddy....and it sounds slightly too sloppy for my liking drum wise. Although as I said it's tolerable because all the other instruments sound pretty sweet this time.
Someone needs to give Jade a decent snare that complements his drum kit and other instruments (e.g. stands out distinctly, but in a good way, not ultra-triggered mud). Then Jade needs to slow down 10-20bpm and get tighter as a drummer and stop trying to play super-fast till he is machine-tight with his fills etc. Super-fast and sloppy just doesn't cut it for me and many others. Maybe when they've changed the drum sounds/triggering/production, then a bit of slop would be okay. I mean the Engulfed in Grief demo is a bit sloppy, but sounds sick because it's raw and analogue-ish. The drumming on this once again just sounds like over-produced, mud-trigger poo. Thank god the other instruments didn't suffer the same fate again.
Once the mud-trigger-poo drum snare/tom sound is fixed, Mr Rutan will surely have a better chance of getting an excellent mix as opposed to just good/average, and things should sound much better. The customer is always right! (usually)
Most of my review has once again been focused on production because I consider it still too distracting for my liking, but the music is sweet and you can actually hear what's going on fairly clearly this time. With a bit more progressiveness, strange chords, and guitar experimentation like in the brilliant tracks "The Art of Redemption" and "Haunting Abound", plus a none-distracting drum sound, a future release could easily get into the 9/10s for fans and none-fans alike in my opinion. Like the old school Engulfed and Conquering days.
I am still hoping for a live-band type setup for a future video in a sick scene, more like Dying Fetus's "Your Treachery". Something mystical and pleasing to the ancient ones as opposed to miming along to fake CGI effects like in Bringer of Storms.
Phoenix… is pure, unadulterated audible brutality. While there is no word more overused than “brutal” in the metal scene (maybe “Slayer”), the list of those who can match Hate Eternal for sheer brutality is short (and contains the names Cryptopsy and Vital Remains [maybe Deicide]).
Hate Eternal records have always been marred by diluted production; the guitar and bass work is usually lost to the constant onslaught of blast beats. With Phoenix, Eric Rutan has finally got it right, and at the most essential of moments in the band’s career. On par with the brutality, the album showcases a level of songwriting and composition constantly approached, yet never before reached by the band.
The drumming of Jade Simonetto is much more precise than his raw performance on Fury & Flames and Eric Rutan’s voice is utterly devastating.
Upon first listen, Phoenix… instantly eclipsed I, Monarch as my favourite Hate Eternal album, and in a year dominated by extraordinary death metal albums has managed to do the same to any other release within the genre this year.
I don’t know what kind of terms Rutan’s on with the band, but after the piece of shit they put out this year, I’d like to think this album is a big “fuck you” to Morbid Angel.
Better written than I, Monarch, more brutal than King Of All Kings, Phoenix… is a death metal masterpiece. “Riiiiise! Riiiiiise! Riiiiiiiiiise!”
For those of you still crying over the latest Morbid Angel abortion, wipe away those tears because Erik Rutan and co are here to save the day. I'd been rather underwhelmed with the Hate Eternal releases prior to Phoenix Amongst the Ashes but it seems that at long last Rutan has managed to assemble the puzzle correctly.
This album is exactly what Morbid Angel's Illud Divinum Insanus album could have/should have been. With precision bordering on frightening with the band playing tighter than a fish's arse, Hate Eternal's sound is the distillation of the US Death Metal sound a la 2011. Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is undeniably modern, with a strong emphasis on speed and blasting, guitar solos spew forth exactly when required, and Rutan's vocals are potent if not unspectacular. The album pretty much blazes across the speakers from start to finish, and fans of Nile, Fleshgod Apocalypse or Hour of Penance will lap this right up.
A special mention goes to "The Art of Redemption" which holds one of the coolest/most bizarre (delete as applicable) moments on the album; where normally the guitars would tremolo pick on the lower strings, they take it to the higher strings (has to be e and b) and it really does sound crazy, shredding your ear drums into a bloody mess. Whilst I think the album is a little too blast-ridden and same-sounding, it doesn't detract half as much as you would think, and never becomes boring. However I feel the album is best listened to in three or four bursts of songs, where it can really hit the mark. A good release that fans of modern death metal should certainly check out.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
I have been a fan of Hate Eternal ever since I heard I Monarch. Their brand of fast and unrelenting death metal appealed to me and still does but after listening to this album I am not nearly as impressed as I was after I'd listened to I Monarch. This is strange because both albums are essentially made up with the same ingredients, technical guitar work, unrelenting drums that never seem to stop for a break and the growls of Erik Rutan. Everything is perfect but their is one thing missing, Originality.
Musically this album matches up to all previous Hate Eternal releases. Jade Simonetto does an exceptional job on the drums being just as fast and unrelenting as past Hate Eternal drummers have became known for. As usual Erik Rutan gives an excellent performance as the sole guitarist, showing a high amount of technicality while keeping the riffs memorable. J.J. Hrubovcak also gives a sound performance on bass again matching up to past Hate Eternal bassists and even managing to keep up with Erik Rutan. The vocals also taken up by Erik Rutan are as usual excellent and it may be the production but they sound much more clearer in this release which is nice to hear.
The problem with Phoenix Amongst The Ashes is not the music it is the fact that Hate Eternal have become so predictable with their music that it is hard to get excited about a new release even when the release comes out as well as this has, music wise their isn't anything I can criticize on this album, anyone who hasn't listened to Hate Eternal before I implore you to listen to this as it is a fantastic piece of Technical Death Metal but for anyone familiar with their work I suggest you look elsewhere as their is nothing new here.
Although they've brought nothing new to the mix I can see myself listening to this just as much as the other Hate Eternal releases, their a great band and this is a great album.
Stand out tracks: The Art of Redemption and Hatesworn.
I must have been asleep the day it was decided that Hate Eternal would be the critical darlings of the death metal world. Metalsucks and Decibel both have major hard-ons for the band. I can't say that I really agree with the fellating these band get, personally. Don't get me wrong, I think they're decent, but they have never really been a favorite of mine. To me, they have mostly been a standard, run of the mill death metal band.
The biggest problem I have always had with Hate Eternal has been the production. The drumming is always much too high in the mix, to the point that it really drowns out everything else going on. Which would be okay if the drums were doing something truly interesting, but they aren't, it's just blasting. It would still be okay if the music wasn't doing anything interesting. Honestly that's hard to tell, because it can't be heard over the blasting.
So, I was curious to hear this album, based on my relative disdain for the band in the past, King of All Kings notwithstanding. I will say the band has grown. Musically, there is some interesting stuff going on for the most part. Of course the blasting drums are still very much present which does detract from the music. Of course at other times it can be pretty awful, such as the opening riff to "The Art of Redemption" which would not sound out of place on a Dillinger Escape Plan song. By the way, I hate The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Hate Eternal is definitely an intense band. And very few other bands can match their brutality and energy. Unfortunately, this all becomes a bit overwhelming when not even the sparse melodies can ever really be heard. I still don't get the love this band receives, but this album is decent enough. It just won't make my Top 10.
Hate Eternal can always be counted on to deliver an over-the-top assault of blastbeats, dissonant riffs and intense vocals. Erik Rutan has been exploring this formula for years obviously, but to me it still doesn't sound tired. He's very enthusiastic about his work and it shows. Gotta hand it to a guy that gets good at something and sticks with it. I don't think this band will ever really out-do "I, Monarch" but this record comes pretty damn close. The songwriting and production is closer to the work on "I, Monarch" than their last album "Fury and Flames" but there aren't as many instantly catchy parts on this one as there are on Monarch. The drums and guitar aren't fighting each other for space as they did on Fury, which sounds like a 40 minute-long explosion. That album is cool in its own way, but I think this one is a little more listenable. This seems to continue the apparent pattern of Hate Eternal albums being pretty straightforward followed by one that's weird as hell.
What this album does have over Monarch I think is more kick-ass lead guitar work. Rutan has a distinctive tone and style, and he steps it up on this CD. The solos are well constructed and musical, something some death metal guitarists either ignore or forget. There aren't a bunch of sweep arpeggios and tapping wank parts either, but lyrical and cool sounding bends and stuff instead. Like I said, Rutan has his own thing going on and leaves the tapping and sweeping to Origin and Necrophagist (not that I have a problem with either of those bands). The intro to The Art of Redemption has this crazy guitar part that just makes me go "what the fuck?" You keep expecting it to drop down into a low heavy riff but it just keeps building intensity and frenzied dissonance so when it finally does get to the riff it just kicks your ass even more.
There are enough slower parts and weird sections to keep me interested without straying too far from what the Erik Rutan Experience does best: grind your fucking face off. I've been listening to death metal for like 15 years or so and lately I've been pretty bored with the whole genre. This album isn't boring. I'm sure somebody will think it is. People seem to either react to Hate Eternal as having too many blastbeats to the point of monotony or they think it's so over the top that it's unlistenable. I gotta be in the right mood for Hate Eternal, but when it comes down to it, they're not fake, gay, weak or fucking around. You can't take that away from them. And if you haven't seen them live, check it out if you can. Fucking intense. First time I ever heard Hate Eternal was at a concert when they were touring for King of All Kings and I've been a fan ever since.
The only thing that sometimes bugs me about this record is the amount of double-tracked screech/growl vocals. It gets a little overused but other than that, I'm not complaining.
Is this record a radical revolution turning the metal world on its head? No. Does it rock? Fuck yes it does.
In 2005, Hate Eternal released I, Monarch. That album I see as not only being the magnum opus of this band, but also as a benchmark of modern death metal. The speed, the intensity, and the creativity on that record has not been matched as of yet. Six years and two albums later, Hate Eternal come out with Phoenix Amongst the Ashes. And while not without its faults, Phoenix is a great modern death metal album for all to enjoy.
From the moment the first real track, "The Eternal Ruler", begins, the listener will immediately tell that Hate Eternal still pulls no punches and is still as fast and brutal as ever. Erik Rutan remains seated on his proverbial throne as one of the great extreme metal vocalists and guitarists. His riffs are relentless, with tremolo picking on full display here. He also once again shows his proficiency with soloing as well. If there's any one part of his guitar playing I don't like though, it's the overly long and needlessly technical intro to The Art of Redemption. Approximately one minute is spent on incredibly annoying guitar doodling, with nothing but Jade Simonetto's never ending blast beats carrying him on. Speaking of Jade, while I absolutely adore the man's speed and endurance, he could use some work in the creativity department. He's not a boring drummer, just not incredibly inventive, unlike his predecessor, the great Derek Roddy, who is the single greatest drummer I have ever seen. I'd comment more on bassist JJ Hrubovcak, but this album falls to the ever present standard idea in modern metal that the bass is a total afterthought.
If there's one thing this album is perfect in though, it's the intensity. Good Odin, this ranks right up there with the classics like Scream Bloody Gore and Winds of Creation in just how unmerciful on the ears it is. Never does a moment go by where there is not something going on. The fact that the album production is so thick and organic sounding helps it greatly; Erik Rutan is an amazing producer, and he shines through here. I had on Thorns of Acacia, and the sound was so great that my CD stack inched its way to the edge of my desk and fell off. That's how fucking great this album sounds.
I don't think Hate Eternal will ever make another I, Monarch. The lineup on that album was perfect, and it was at the right time for all three of those men, said men being Rutan, Roddy, and Randy Piro. But on Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, Rutan, Hrubovcak, and Simonetto do a damn good job at creating a fun, intense, merciless death metal album. Not a classic, but very good in its own right.
Hate Eternal's distinct sound of death metal has always been known for its mix of extreme brutality, speed, and technicality; one of which many bands couldn’t even think about conceiving. The utter intensity of their first two albums Conquering The Throne and King Of All Kings, was unheard of at the time. With their pounding follow up release I, Monarch only adding to this. After the death of Erik Rutan’s good friend and bassist Jared Anderson, Hate Eternal released Fury & Flames with the addition of the legendary Alex Webster. This album split the opinion on Hate Eternal, it was over produced with blaring bass and drums, with the guitars sunk into the background. Was it fucking brutal? Yes. Was it great? No. With a three year period and extensive touring, has this once glorious band to it’s original place; no goddamn question!
After hearing the single Haunting Abound I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I kept my hopes high. I bought the album 2 days after the release in North America and jammed it into my speaker system. First impressions; holy fuck. The production on this album is very consistent and thick, but still keeps its natural sound. There is a reason why Erik is known as a top class producer on top of metal god. The sound of Jade Simonetto’s hurling and extreme drumming is very well done, noticed instantly on the first (not including intro:rebirth) track “The Eternal Ruler”. The mix is what I would consider near perfect, with the triggers not your stereotypical overly treble clicking, they remain low and rumbling while very clean. Continuing the note on Jade, his drumming on Phoenix is unstoppable. He carries the trend set by previous members such as Derek Roddy. The blasting is insane and the double bass is fucking fast, but unfortunately it does get monotonous at times, every song is generally filled with the same stuff, with a few variations “Haunting Abound”, “The Fire Of Resurrection”, and “Lake Ablaze”. To sum it up, great drumming that fits every song very well with surprises here and there, but overall could use a little more creativity too mix it up.
Erik Rutan’s rhythm and guitar has always known to be stunning. Just like his previous albums (not including Fury) his sound is vibrant, harsh, and very well mixed. The impressive part of this is he must of atleast written a 150+ fucking riffs for this album (no joke), every song has so much variation it’s incredible. The rhythm work ranges from full on shreds that grind the listeners brain to a pulp, to haunting progressions. In terms of leads every song generally has two solos, one very well thought out shred solo and one mind blowing melodic solo; As an example, the last part of “The Art Of Redemption”, “Phoenix Amongst The Ashes” and “The Fire Of Resurrection”. The title track and “The Fire Of Resurrection” have a very chilling emotion followed with them, maybe it’s just me but this atmosphere is very attractive, it adds another context to this genre that makes it even more haunting and brutal. The bass work done by JJ on this album is very consistent and listenable, giving your standard tech death bassline a more creative approach, mixing in jazz work and tapping. The mix on the bass is good, not nearly as high on Fury which I kind of liked, but is still audible *most of the time.
In terms of lyrical content, this is poetry, But it doesn't take away at all the hate and death being shown. Go head and read through that lyric booklet and listen to the songs at the same time, and tell me that as a whole they don't fit together perfectly. The vocals are what you would averagely expect from a monster like Erik Rutan, growls on the lower end of the scale while still being very articulate. Lucky JJ performs the classic high pitch snarls and screams present on the other albums, mixed with Eriks you create one of the most intense demonic vocals one can find.
All in all this is nearly a perfect album. Erik performs his masterful knowledge of guitar work and musicianship, while giving a brutal vocal/lyrical performance, while being complimented by JJ’s bass work and high pitched screams. Jade presents his extreme speed and talent throughtout the album, while some what monotonous, is a top candidate for this position. This is one of the bands keeping the greasy gurgling monstrosity of death metal alive and thumping away.
Eric Rutan's Hate Eternal sometimes gets flak for being an unoriginal, boring, pure-Florida style death metal band. That's wrong in at least two ways.
Phoenix Amongst the Ashes (the band's fifth full-length) has the band performing death with intensity and ferocity equalled by few others. In terms of the clean production, the death grunts, the incessantly machinegunning drums, and the massively grooving riffs, they sound more like Behemoth than their Floridian brethren.
And it's certainly anything but boring. It's tough to be boring when you're this intense to begin with, but songs like "Haunting Abound" prove that catchy riffs are not in short supply here. Or take the doomy guitar pace of the title track paired with the ever-violent drumming, making for an engaging death metal track if I've ever heard one. OK, so "Hatesworn" and closer "The Fire of Resurrection" aren't going to decaptitate you, but by that point in the album you're just hanging by a few neck tendons anyway.
So they're not pure Florida, and they're not boring. As for unoriginal, well, they're certainly better than your average death metal band. Some of the rhythms seem drawn more from Gojira than Morbid Angel, and "The Art of Redemption" starts out sounding like Psyopus before working the lead into a genuine death metal song. In other words, if your entire library is pure death metal, you'll be thrown off guard a few times.
The Verdict: Hate Eternal suffer from unfair criticism due to high profile more than anything. Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is another solid album from a (mostly) consistently good band. It's exciting and intense, and unless Behemoth can get back on their feet it's the best of this kind of death you're going to get.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Maybe I'm just too jaded. As a man who's listened to Metal and Death Metal in particular for about a decade I have a kind of affinity to Eric Rutan and Hate Eternal. Few bands manage to play the Floridian Death Metal sound with so few frills and tags with such conviction. With Hate Eternal you have a band that plays nothing but Death Metal without any Progressive, Core or Grind, or Black Metal touches. Pure Death Metal that sometimes flirts with tech but never falls into that particular quagmire of banality.
So as a man who worships at the throne of Possessed and Death I appreciate what Hate Eternal do. Thing is they've been doing pretty much the same thing for 5 Lps now.
Everything about this LP sounds exactly like something that would be found on I Monarch or King of All Kings. There are a few nice breaks here and there, the pre-requisite soaring solos can occasionally jump out at you but nothing grabs you by the throat in the same way that Fury & Flames did. Now say what you like about that album in terms of songwriting quality but it was a kick in the teeth by any measure and it had personality.
Phoenix Amongst the Ashes kinda rumbles in the background. One vocal arrangement in Phoenix Amongst The Ashes (the song) reminds me of Bringer of Storms with it's repetition of "Rise, Rise, RISE!" sounding just like Bringer of Storm's repetition of "Now, Now, NOW!". The opening riff of The Eternal Ruler reminds me of the opening riff of Behold Judas. Basically Hate Eternal seem to be ripping off themselves and this kind of incestuous song writing breeds indifference from someone is familiar with the bands history or releases and history of Floridian Death Metal in particular.
Maybe I'm just too jaded. I've been spoilt by the space odysseys from Mithras. I can't help but fell that if Hate Eternal had jumped ship to make a progressive release a'la Enslaved or even a Core release a'la Cryptopsy I could conjure up a bit more excitement, through either praise or venom, for this album.
At the end of the day, the bottom line is, by and large, taking everything into account, weighing up the pros and cons this is Hate Eternal being Hate Eternal at their most Hate Eternal. With the exception of Fury & Flames this LP is interchangeable with the back repertoire of this band, and although I won't condemn them for being simply consistent it's hard for me to commend them for the same thing. 3 stars.
While Hate Eternal's fifth album does not necessarily manifest the titular creature as far as its glorious qualities, it is undoubtedly the strongest album Erik Rutan has released through this outlet since the 1999 debut, Conquering the Throne. Retaining the services of Jade Simonetto's intense drumming ability, adding former Monstrosity axegrinder J.J. Hrubovcak to the bass position, he's assembled a formidable lineup capable of nearly anything within the brutal death spectrum. Overall, the level of competence is staggering, and Rutan continues to write in his post-Morbid Angel vein: predictable yet destructive blasting hurricanes of straight death interlaced with intricate, blockbusting grooves and just enough melody to keep the listener's ear affixed beyond merely the thundering catechism expected.
Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is an album of splatter and dynamics, and while its almost incessant in terms of the exhausting level of blasting and double bass, the riffs range a little broader than its predecessor Fury & Flames. "Haunting Abound" is like feeding industrial strength Voivod dissonance through a Morbid Angel meat grinder, while "Hatesworn" feels like an outtake from Domination, all tremendous grooving curvature and cranial numbing footwork from Simonetto that makes one question the guy's humanity. Faster fare like the title track has a dense layer of fibrous melody, subordinate to the tireless slaughter of the rhythm section, and "The Art of Redemption" will spin heads through its clinical, spiraling storm of higher end notation. I was also absorbed into the counter grooves and chaos of "Lake Ablaze", and the opening one two volley of "The Eternal Ruler" and "Thorns of Acacia" is vicious enough to get most of the naysayers back on board that negative reactions to the prior pair of efforts.
Truly, this is about as intense as the human form can perform in this genre without their bone structure dissembling, but there are still some drawbacks. For one, the vocals are never quite interesting. Rutan is heaving out the same Benton/Vincent-like gruffness he has clocked in since 1999, offset by some cheesy and forgettable snarls. Neither voice possesses the malevolent charisma or resonance to adequately mirror the whirlwind compositional ability. For another, despite the obvious creativity the trio have expressed here, there are still passages of banal aggression, with less interesting riffs, that feel almost as if they're just inserted to fill up space and give Simonetto an extended workout. All told though, the excellent production of the album and the relentless ability of the musicians involved make Phoenix enough of a success that the band can once again be considered a contender for the hostile, vacant throne of Floridian obliteration.