Hate Eternal

I, Monarch

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    8
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The third album by Erik Rutan's post-Morbid Angel project Hate Eternal may be the singer/guitarist's purest achievement, if not his best. I, Monarch is 40 minutes of distilled essence of death metal, with Rutan's Cookie Monster vocals declaiming crypto-religious S&M lyrics over his own hypnotically repetitive riffs and flashy, technically excellent solos, while a close-to-inaudible bassist and the superhuman blastbeat drummer Derek Roddy hurtle along at near-impossible speeds behind him. Those who love this sort of thing will be in awe, not least because Rutan manages to include a few actual tunes (or at least refrains) alongside the jackhammer throb. Those whose tolerance for death metal is lower should nonetheless at least stay for the end; the instrumental "Faceless One" is something of a breakthrough, and the best song on the album by some distance. After nine tracks that whiz past in a death metal blur, Rutan slows the tempo here incrementally, but just enough to allow himself and Roddy the breathing room to show off hitherto speed-obscured aspects of their playing. Roddy in particular comes off exceedingly well; he may be the best drummer in the entire subgenre. If Rutan chose to explore this variation on what's becoming a well-worn theme, Hate Eternal might be on to something interesting.

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