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Hate Eternal is a death metal band from Saint Petersburg, Florida that was formed in 1997 by Guitarist, Vocalist and renown death metal producer Erik Rutan (formally of Morbid Angel). Upon Desolate Sands is the band's seventh album and fourth on Metal Blade following other releases on this label including Fury & Flames, Phoenix Amongst The Ashes and a follow up to the techy affair that was Infernus. On the note of techy, Upon Desolate Sands is a relentless blur of tech fury somehow contained in a space that somehow feels like you are within a sandstorm. So put on your brutal goggles as we wade into this sandstorm upon the desolate sands!
First notes I made on my first listen simply said it best, “Man this is a dense wall of sound but I can still hear everything very clearly” so that being said this album is not for the faint of heart. This album has no intro track but just jumps right into the fray with a monster guitar riff and some powerful blast beats by new drummer Hannes Grossmann, like if I had any hair left on my head this would have knocked it off out of sheer brutality! Tone wise this album is very fast, down-tuned and heavy, with techy flourishes abound, you will find no clean vocals on this album just that signature Rutan roar. This band in moments show they are not some new upstart band, in a good way, you can hear the influence of the main writers who were major players in the death metal scene in its early prime, but they are in no way lost in the past, as their modern influences can be heard on this album as well, this is death metal through and through.
The opening track of the album is called “The Violent Fury” and as stated very much sounds like its title, props to them for diving in headfirst rather than giving us a minute or two of intro track to either skip or pray that the metal hits some time soon. The next track “What Lies Beyond” at first dials back the pace a bit as if to show the listener that they can before the volley of guitars and drums come flying back in less than a minutes time. As a listener on albums like this, I can appreciate the slow moments that make the more flashy moments pop, in no way am I calling this song overall slow in fact the solo on this song is amazing in its speed and technicality and a great way to end the track off well! Another midtempo song is what was my first peek into what this album would be in the song “Nothingness of Being” which actually keeps that mid-tempo through the song, it is very nice and chunky affair and because of it is a real stand out in the album! These tracks alongside a very good mix make this somewhat hard to listen to the style of music very engaging!
There are a few downsides of the album, as stated this album is pretty relentless but that can be a double-edged sword. After the halfway point of the album, everything starts to feel a bit, "samey" like they had gotten the point across in the first few tracks then it just kind of barrels along till the title track. One of the things that add to this is actually the vocals, there is about one tone throughout the whole album which is a low traditional death metal vocal and the only change up is some points have a bit of a high screamed backing vocal added to them. All things aside I would say this has to be most likely my favorite traditional death metal album so far, it has a lot of good moments throughout and these last few years there has not been a ton of straight death metal albums of good quality out releasing sans some subgenre this album is pure and brutal and I respect it for that!
The Nothingness of Being is right up my ally music wise, it’s grove is fierce and mixes very well with Rutan’s vocals and I can image will cause an all-out war in the pits when played live. With an honorable mention to the title track that is also a beast of a song that should bring a ton of life to the live shows!