Hate Eternal – Upon Desolate Sands

39159181_10155483872536960_1784714543922937856_n

Artist: Hate Eternal

Album Title: Upon Desolate Sands

Label: Season of Mist

Date of Release: 26 October 2018

The accusation that gets thrown around about brutal death metal is that, sometimes, it can all sound a bit similar. Songs come across as blending into each other, with little to differentiate themselves or stand out. An album of brutal music can often be an exhausting procession of blast beats, brutal riffs, breakneck leads and gruff, guttural and barely intelligible lyrics. For some, this sounds like the perfect sonic recipe. On a fair few occasions, I will be one of those people. However, my love of brutal death metal is generally more circumspect than that; I need it to demonstrate something more, something just a little bit different, otherwise the album will tend to blur into one amorphous mass of extremity.

And that, right there, is the overriding problem I have with ‘Upon Desolate Sands’. Hate Eternal, led by vocalist/guitarist Erik Rutan, have been plying their uncompromising trade since before the turn of the millennium, releasing their debut, ‘Conquering The Throne’ is 1999. Since then, they have released a further five albums, all receiving varying degrees of critical acclaim. And yet, I have never truly warmed to the Floridian death merchants, currently comprised of Rutan alongside bassist J.J. Hrubovcak and drummer Hannes Grossmann.

The same is true of their seventh full-length release, I’m afraid. I gave this record a go in the pursuit of offering the band another chance and to give myself another opportunity to ‘see the light’ so to speak. I also felt rather drawn to the record thanks to the intriguing and beautifully-illustrated front cover artwork. Maybe I’m not enough of an aficionado of death metal, but my opinion of ‘Upon Desolate Sands’ is lukewarm at best I’m afraid.

36285436_10155385201931960_6170328151202201600_o

There are moments when I sit up and take notice of the music, such as the more melodic and characterful ‘All Hope Destroyed’ that delivers an extended and memorable lead guitar led section. It sounds big and epic, with plenty of atmosphere built in, although I have a strong suspicion that it only sounds as good as it does within this particular context.

And, in any case, these moments of relative calm and lucidity are too few and far between for my personal tastes. Instead, ‘Upon Desolate Sands’ prefers to spend the better part of 40 minutes pummeling the listener with a style of death metal that sits somewhere in the middle between being overly technical and being overly simplistic. The music is deployed in a highly competent and sharp manner, meaning that this is slick and professional-sounding, supported by a production that hasn’t entirely robbed the music of its edge by being too clear. However, sitting between two stalls like it does, I find that it lacks sufficient steamrollering groove and enough intricate and incisive instrumental gymnastics. The musicians are clearly talented at what they do, but the spark is missing as far as I’m concerned.

As the album ends, I struggle to pick any specific compositions out of the pack because too few of them stand out. If I really wrack my brains, I could mention the opener ‘The Violent Fury’ that contains a few dark and tasty moments. I could also refer to the closing moments of the otherwise unexceptional ‘Vengeance Striketh’ which spews forth a exuberant lead guitar solo whilst all other instrumentation falls away.

Even when Hate Eternal lower the pace via ‘Nothingness of Being’, the relentless blast beats continue and, for me, the riffs are not as exciting as I’d want them to be. Admittedly, the churning, roiling sounds, where the bass is particularly audible over the surrounding tumult is rather satisfying but that in itself isn’t quite enough. There isn’t quite enough groove or filthy intent to tip the scales far enough in the right direction.

By the time that closer ‘For Whom We Have Lost’ enters with a much more atmospheric and darkly melodic intent, I’m afraid as far as I’m concerned, it’s a case of too little, too late. And that’s a shame because I think this track is arguably the strongest on the album because of the way in which it sounds just that little bit different.

If you’re a diehard brutal death metal fan, you’ll have read this review whilst shouting expletives at me through your screen. You’ll almost certainly find something about this record to enjoy and you’ll end up buying it anyway. For the rest of us, I fear it doesn’t do anything extraordinary enough to convince you to part with your cash. Ultimately, ‘Upon Desolate Sands’ is a very decent extreme metal record, albeit a fairly unremarkable one.

The Score of Much Metal: 7

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:

2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Witherfall – A Prelude To Sorrow
Northward – Northward
Seventh Wonder – Tiara
Warrel Dane – Shadow Work
Haken – Vector
Beyond Creation – Algorythm
Ultha – The Inextricable Wandering
Amaranthe – Helix
Ghost Ship Octavius – Delirium
Decembre Noir – Autumn Kings
The Odious Construct – Shrine of the Obscene
Fauna Timbre – Altering Echoes
The Moor – Jupiter’s Immigrants
Revocation – The Outer Ones
Riverside – Wasteland
Ethernity – The Human Race Extinction
Dynazty – Firesign
Deicide – Overtures of Blasphemy
Brainstorm – Midnight Ghost
Krisiun – Scourge of the Enthroned
Kingcrow – The Persistence
Cast The Stone – Empyrean Atrophy
Omnium Gatherum – The Burning Cold
Helion Prime – Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster
Madder Mortem – Marrow
A Dying Planet – Facing The Incurable
Árstíðir – Nivalis
Mob Rules – Beast Reborn
The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex
Aethereus – Absentia
Unanimated – Annihilation
Manticora – To Kill To Live To Kill
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Halcyon Way – Bloody But Unbowed
Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 1
Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Distorted Harmony – A Way Out
Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Atrocity – Okkult II
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be
Kataklysm – Meditations
Marduk – Viktoria
Midas Fall – Evaporate
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Haken – L-1VE
Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Ihsahn – Amr
The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric
Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Subsignal – La Muerta
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Hekz – Invicta
Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro
Æpoch – Awakening Inception
Crematory – Oblivion
Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
MØL – Jord
Aesthesys – Achromata
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Borealis – The Offering
W.E.T. – Earthrage
Auri – Auri
Purest of Pain – Solipsis
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s