Sound — 9
Hate Eternal frontman Erik Rutan told Ultimate-Guitar recently that his latest CD Fury & Flames was undoubtedly a product of having to deal with the death of former bandmate and close friend Jared Anderson. Fury & Flames delivers exactly what you might assume a grieving friend might create - turbulent, emotional compositions that come right from the gut. But Rutan gives his classic death metal sound much more than just emotion, and his latest record is truly a success in terms of arrangements and the general cohesiveness of his band.
Having a band sound this good together is actually pretty incredible, particularly considering Rutan is the only member to have remained in the group all 9 years of existence. New members Alex Webster (bass), Shaune Kelley (guitar), and Jade Simonetto (drums) all have a heavy presence, with Simonetto actually standing out as one of the best drummers out in the death metal scene today. While Rutan could have made a record to suit his needs as the vocalist and guitarist, Fury & Flames showcases all 3 new members' talents throughout the entire record. That being said, even with all the talent aboard, Hate Eternal is not for the fainthearted and Rutan gives you a lot - and I emphasize a lot - to take in during the 10-track record.
Hell Envenom is a fitting opener and a solid example of what you'll find on the rest of the album. You at first hear growls that build slowly, and the guitars don't wait too long before making their entrance as well. Rutan could have written an overly dramatic intro that was several minutes long, but there is no time wasted on Hell Envenom. The fury is unleashed within seconds, and it becomes a double bass extravaganza. All of the speed could become tiresome, but Rutan has a great sense of when to change things up a bit. He wisely breaks the song up into several interesting sections, with an absolutely amazing guitar solo inserted at about the 3-minute mark of the song.
Whom Gods May Destroy shows off the band's sense of melody, and there's an underlying riff that sounds a bit like if you injected an old-school Metallica song with speed and steroids. It may be a bit exhausting for the average ear, but there are some cool structures going on underneath all of Rutan's growls and Simonetto's unceasing percussion. The lead guitar only pops up intermittently, and that's the only complaint. Rutan actually could have added a bit more of his work into the mix. However, when you do hear a lead riff surface during the rhythmic storm, it is a really satisfying sound.
Lyrics — 9
Not to say that other bands aren't writing from their personal experiences, but Rutan has some extremely heartfelt lyrics on Fury & Flames that stem directly from Jared Anderson's passing. There is no doubt that Rutan is laying it all out on the table (if you want more insight, check out the entry on his MySpace page), and it's a beautiful tribute to his friend. The best example comes in Tombeau (Le Tombeau De La Fureur Et Des Flammes) in which he sings, In remembrance; Grievous in this state; So solemn in this mourning; In your passing; May you find eternal peace. The first few songs on the record might revolve around more dramatic, over-the-top themes, but the last half seems extremely focused on Anderson, and in a way feels very much like a requiem Mass.
Overall Impression — 9
In terms of the death metal genre in general, Hate Eternal's Fury & Flames delivers. The average listener might find their ears bleeding by the end of the record, and it's true that there is rarely a low-key moment in the CD. That isn't to say there is not an abundance of things going on in each composition, and each section works together pretty seamlessly. Rutan deserves plenty of credit for being the creative force behind it all, but the band as a whole is what makes the record work. Some of the songs are ridiculously complex, but Hate Eternal - even with a lineup that's fairly new - still play like they've been together for years.