Published Jun 15, 2011Florida extreme metal veterans Hate Eternal recently released their fifth album, Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, and are now gearing up for a string of Canadian dates later this month.
Although frontman and founding member Erik Rutan has established himself as one of the most infamous names in death metal (he's a former member of legends Morbid Angel and a renowned producer who has worked with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, Vital Remains, Nile and many more), the completion of the new record was no easy feat. Phoenix Amongst the Ashes marks the band's second release since the passing of bassist Jared Anderson, and as Rutan explains in an interview with Exclaim!, the album represents the rebirth of both himself and of Hate Eternal.
Featuring a new lineup, including drummer Jade Simonetto (ex-the Plasmarifle) and their newest recruit, bassist JJ Hrubovcak (Vile), the three-piece have created an epic masterpiece with Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, which is the follow-up to 2008's Fury & Flames.
"Fury was the hardest album of my life due to the passing of Jared, a loss in my family and replacing my whole band, and all I did was work like a maniac to deal with it," Rutan says. "When Fury was finished is when it all hit me and I had a lot to deal with. Phoenix represents the process of the resurrection of my spirit and the band, so to speak."
Rutan explains that the theme of Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is a continuation of that introduced with Fury & Flames, which is "the actualization of death and the process of potential life after death." Like on Fury & Flames, Anderson's death also affected the tone of the record.
"Certainly, Jared's loss was huge to me, personally and in the band; we were a creative team and he will always be a huge part of what Hate Eternal were and always will be," Rutan conveys. "On another note, I also truly feel the addition of Jade and JJ to the band has made a tremendous difference, in a positive way, which is obvious on Phoenix.
"This album wouldn't be what it is without [Simonetto and Hrubovcak]. The three of us make the perfect team, personally and musically, and their addition to the band has made such an amazing impact. It could only be better if Jared was still alive and we were a four-piece. We know that can never happen, but Jared's spirit will always be a part of the band."
While the new members have had an impact on Phoenix, Hate Eternal's overall sound has remained consistent throughout their 14-year career, as Rutan has always been the band's chief songwriter. "The one thing that has never changed is that," he says. "If you look at the catalogue of Hate Eternal, I have always written the majority of the music and lyrics. I also started the band, so I have always known the direction."
Rutan says Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is "a very dynamic, expressive and epic album" that expands upontheir previous work, while incorporating "new ideas and a unique vibe," but still maintaining Hate Eternal's classic sound. "We always will be an extreme death metal band. We just wanted to expand the dynamics, yet keep the intensity -- add more melodies and more variance and tempos and heaviness, and also integrate different influences in an extreme way," he says.
"I feel like we have really always been grounded and rooted in traditional death metal, but we have always drawn influences from various forms of music. That's why I feel that Hate Eternal have a very distinct and unique sound. I feel that the music has matured over the years and really broken down some different boundaries over the 12 years and five albums we have done. I am so proud of all the work we have accomplished and feel that, hopefully, we will be a part of death metal history."
Hate Eternal are currently in the midst of an extensive North American tour in support of Phoenix Amongst the Ashes. The band will make several Canadian stops on the trek, including shows in Vancouver (June 15), Kelowna (June 26), Calgary (June 27), Edmonton (June 28), Regina (June 30), Winnipeg (July 1), Toronto (July 7) and Montreal (July 8). You can see the complete schedule here.
Phoenix Amongst the Ashes is out now via Metal Blade.