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Just Some More Bonkers Floridian Death Metal - 80%

MetalMegalomania, May 9th, 2019

In regard to my overarching opinion of Upon Desolate Sands, the album is fairly unorthodox as the top half squashes under the might of the bottom. More often than not, full-lengths open with a handful of singles which tend to be the more reliable of the constituents. Then of course following the second-quarter intermission, the band tends to expand and introduce riskier musical elements which either make or break an album. I’ve begun to notice this, at least from my personal tastes, especially since I’ve developed a more critical point of view following the launching of this website.

The first three numbers on Upon Desolate Sands are very standard for death metal. “The Violent Fury” and “What Lies Beyond” incorporate competent song elements, as I enjoy the intro riff to the latter and the tracks hold their own, but in comparison to what’s coming on the second half of this record, the first 15 minutes of Upon Desolate Sands is certainly the least shiny. It may be polished, but it doesn’t shine.

The third offending song, “Vengeance Striketh,” continues along these polished albeit traditional routes, but begins to incorporate what will contribute to the album’s most redeeming factor. There are a few more peculiar riffs on this one, and the culminating melodic guitar solo serves as a proper send-off to the aforementioned trio of tracks. Once again, they’re not poor tracks, they’re merely standard.

Here’s comes the essence, the fois gras if you will, of this delicious meal. I was listening to this album in preparation for my write-up, and I was paying a heightened attention to the first side of the release, as that’s usually where the money is. I was struggling to grab on to something tangible, a riff I particularly enjoyed, or perhaps a solo or whatever. It finally dawned on me upon consuming Side B of the release that Upon Desolate Sands reaches its prime when all of the necessary elements join as one.

I achieved the aforementioned revelation during “Nothingness is Being,” the first track after the original slump. Side note: keep in mind that this is my first Hate Eternal release, and I have no knowledge of their past outputs, so the following may not be a revelation to you seasoned veterans out there. Hate Eternal’s golden quality lies behind their ability to craft an atmosphere infested with an overarching sense of impending doom, but through a fast-paced and chaotic milieu. “Nothingness is Being” is where it becomes evident that the release really begins to sink into its shell; of course the record redeems itself track after track until its closure.

To elaborate on what I spewed above via concrete examples, I’ll put “All Hope is Destroyed” on the chopping block. This song is also fairly representative of the album. Its got fast riffs, great pace, and an ultimate feeling of crushing doom. In particular, the interchange between the consistent, machinegun-like chorus and the riffs that follow are absolutely exquisite, and undoubtedly contributes to a highly rewarding listen.

The final portion of the album redeems everything I’ve been laying out for you in the above paragraphs. The penultimate title track, in conjunction with the instrumental album-closer, culminate to create what I feel has to be one of the best closing sections of a full-length I’ve ever heard. The pair really redeems the 40-minute listen time required to consume the whole album, and its something you just have to experience, as cliché is that sounds.

There you have it, zero to hero with this one. Upon Desolate Sands certainly opened in a standard manner, but all of the stops were made following the first track trio. Perhaps not another chart-topper, but certainly another good 2018 release!

Hate Eternal - Upon Desolate Sands - 80%

Orbitball, April 6th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Season of Mist (Digipak)

This album I bought a physical copy of, listened to it all the way through, and thought "this is a real piece of sh**." Now I think differently about it after hearing more and more of it. The music isn't their best written to date, but it's decent for a semi-new release. There's a lot of time signature changes and the vocals pretty much stay the same throughout the entire release. I'd have to say I was just "bored with it" the first few times around. But then it started to grow on me. I thought that it was better than average. There are some parts that are surreal and melodic, though just on maybe a few songs. They're trying a little experimentation here.

The production quality is quite sound and the music (for more or less the most part) is HEAVY. But the riffs aren't as catchy as previous albums. There's only a few that I caught that I liked but most of it was good or a little better than average. I think that they still had something good to offer here, the leads are well done, a little Morbid Angel-esque type of vibe from the earlier releases. I think this album isn't talked about much or though worthy of writing about. I beg to differ because I think the band still had something to contribute to the METAL scene. It was just a little unexpected that they took a turn into a little more (as I mentioned) experimentation.

Songs are about 3-4 minutes long and there's a lot of variety tempo-wise. Some riffs are pretty intricate and fast but they're always changing things up. It's not like the earlier days where they were pretty much wholly heavy. I'm not sure why they put in some somewhat mystical parts in their guitar sessions, but I only know that they do it just briefly. They've alternated tempos constantly but the vocals stay the same. Not sure why Eric Rutan wanted this change with the band because it was better when they were in your face death metal, not just experimenting with sounds constantly.

I'm still giving this album a "B-", I think it's generous to do, but I'm only being fair. If I thought differently, I might've changed the rating. Hate Eternal did something different here, whether you like it or hate it, they're still playing death metal as a 3-piece and have racked up some good heavy riffs. If you focus on those, then maybe you'll like the album more. That's basically like I did. But yeah, this is one that definitely has to grow on you. And focus on the leads as well because they're totally well played out. We'll see what Eric has to put out the next few years with another new release. Buy the physical copy and support metal especially the band!!

Some great riffs buried in monotony - 72%

BloodIronBeer, December 6th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Season of Mist (Digipak)

If you're a fan of death metal, Eric Rutan should not be unknown to you. He has carried over and developed the sound from Morbid Angel's Domination into his own band, modernizing slightly over time, and eventually producing Upon Desolate Sands. This of course entails that Tampa style death metal sound, with a sinister feel, ugly riffs that sound as tortured as they are angry, and a reliance on constant rolls on every piece of the drum kit. Eric's vocals strike me as a very low pitched yell rather than a normal growl, as they don't have the typical rasp and rattle.

The riffs are defiantly non-melodic, and embrace entirely that evil sounding dissonant aspect that has been more associated with black metal than death metal for many years now. The riffs remind me of an angry man stuck in molasses. You can feel the anger, through a muddy, thick production, and even at times when the music is on the faster side, it still feels vexed by it's own inability to go as fast as it would like. Yeah … I don't know where these analogies come from.

There is scarcely a drum part on this album that doesn't contain either a blast beat or a double bass drum roll. Sometimes the guitar refuses to move as quickly as the drum beat, and I find that annoying. It's not that the guitar has to always be keeping pace with the drum's rhythmic subdivisions, but it almost feels like they're never on the same page in that regard. Listening to this album reminded me that I always had this issue with the band – the wall of sound issue. The double bass rolls are so prevalent that is starts to sap the energy out of the riffs. The bass-forward production doesn't help, and the fact that the drums seem to overpower the guitar and vocals just means you will struggle at times to appreciate the riffs.

And the riffs are very good. Very good indeed. Even the more labored, trudging riffs that I don't normally care for, feel a little bit more potent here.

Highlights are Vengeance Striketh and All Hope Destroyed. Vengeance Striketh definitely has all the hallmarks of the Tampa sound, and All Hope Destroyed almost sounds like it wants to be technical death metal at times with some nice busy guitar work, and considerably more deviation from the drum parts – which frankly, is exactly the kind of thing this band needs to do more.

A better mixing job would improve this album a great deal – if the drummer is going to play the same thing constantly, he could at least do it further towards the back of the music. Sharpen up the guitar tone, and you'd improve it more. If they could break up the rhythmic monotony with time changes, accents or simply ya know, rests, you could potentially have a great album here.