Hate Eternal Hard Luck, Toronto ON March 5

Hate Eternal Hard Luck, Toronto ON March 5
Watching the legendary Erik Rutan perform live is a privilege. He's one of the most prominent names in extreme metal, as a former member of death metal vets Morbid Angel and as a renowned producer who has worked with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, Vital Remains, Nile and many more. But it's as the frontman and founding member of Florida's Hate Eternal in which lies his greatest accomplishments: setting the standard for death metal, as well as spectacular live performance, since their 1997 inception.

It's a shame, then, that the turnout for the band's Toronto show was less than impressive. However, as soon as Hate Eternal hit the stage, it was as if they were playing for a packed house. The trio's energy level was at a high throughout their hour-long performance, which consisted of a set that included a variety of tracks from their stellar catalogue. Kicking things off with "Behold Judas" from their 2005 album I, Monarch, Rutan blazed away with his dominant, punishing guitar riffs and incendiary solos.

When not whipping his hair in a fury, Rutan demanded attention with his deep, ominous vocals. Drummer Jade Simonetto (ex-the Plasmarifle) and the band's newest recruit, bassist JJ Hrubovcak (Vile), were on point -- following Rutan's lead -- during the entire set. Their performance of "Haunting Abound," from their latest release, 2011's epic masterpiece Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, in particular captured Hate Eternal's intense musicianship with Simonetto's drum blasts and Hrubovcak's evil-sounding low end.

Playing a few more tunes from Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, including the title track, it's obvious that Hate Eternal are proud of their fifth studio album, which adheres to their classic death metal style yet features some of their most innovative song structures and melodies to date. However, it wasn't until near the end of their set that came the show's highlights, including a captivating performance of "Powers That Be" from their exceptional sophomore record, 2002's King of All Kings, as well as a performance of the title track from that record, which ended the night perfectly.