If you were like me, wondering where HATE ETERNAL would go after its musically diverse album in "I, Monarch" (the last for Earache) and basically assumed that the fourth effort, "Fury & Flames" (the first for Metal Blade) would continue in that direction, then you'd be dead wrong. The path followed on the new album is one of pure speed and unrelenting punishment, almost like "King of All Kings" on steroids. Can you even begin to imagine that? Yet once you regain consciousness from the initial spin or two and listen closely, you'll realize that there is some terrific guitar work going on from Rutan and new/old guy and lead/rhythm guitarist Shaune Kelley (ex-RIPPING CORPSE); oddly melodic (in a vague sense) and twisted as hell. Coupled with the freight train rhythm section of Jade Simonetto and bass master Alex Webster (CANNIBAL CORPSE, BLOTTED SCIENCE), "Fury & Flames" is another death metal juggernaut from Metal Blade (along with the new BRAIN DRILL) that is sure to be considered one of the year's best when it is all said and done.
So we've established that the experimentation heard on the damn solid "I, Monarch" has largely been left behind, save for a brief outro called "Coronach" (with guest vocals from Katy Decker). However, this is no way means that Rutan does not continue to push the envelope. Just listen to the bizarre, yet strangely infectious chords, of "Fury Within" and the winding solo during the last section of "Tombeau (Le Tombeau De La Fureur Et Des Flammes)", a perfect complement to the riffing beneath it. The latter tune is dedicated to late bassist/vocalist Jared Anderson (HATE ETERNAL, INTERNECINE) whose spirit can be felt in every nook and cranny of this disc. Anderson (pictured in the booklet with a dedication from Rutan) would be so proud of this effort. While you'll find that most of these songs have a certain depth to them that cannot be fully appreciated until you've listened a few times, "Bringer of Storms" does hit with more immediacy; it's got the kind of HATE ETERNAL classic feel that was heard on "Powers that Be".
I could go on and on about Webster's immense bass prowess (damn, it sounds fantastic), Simonetto's nerve fraying drumming, or Rutan and Kelley's intricate playing and always distinctive leads. Instead, grab a pair of headphones, spend some time with this one, and hear it for yourself. It will in fact blow your mind and leave you limp. Incredibly fucking heavy.