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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/