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Reign in Hell

Death metal is back. Where the fuck did it go? "It never went anywhere," shrugs Hate Eternal's Jared Anderson. "It's angry music, and it belongs where it is. This way it stays pure. Purity is very important."
December 1, 2002, 12:00am

Death metal is back. Where the fuck did it go? "It never went anywhere," shrugs Hate Eternal’s Jared Anderson. "It’s angry music, and it belongs where it is. This way it stays pure. Purity is very important." No shit. Serious aficionados of the game constantly refer to "pure" and "true" death metal, ethereal concepts that can make or break musicians’ careers (or lives, if you live in a death metal murder haven like Norway). Anderson and lead singer/guitarist Eric Rutan both did time in Morbid Angel, who have basically become the Ramones of their genre — an analogy with both positive and negative implications. Rutan jumped ship in 2000 to pursue his own singular vision with Hate Eternal, and Anderson followed soon after. Their debut, Conquering the Throne, symbolized a primitive yet calculated aesthetic that Morbid Angel hadn’t been able to recapture in years. Now, with King of Kings, Anderson and Rutan have bulldozed past their mentors with a brand-new standard for brutality. King of Kings is the album that death metal has been waiting years for. It’s a milestone of sculpted wrath in its own time, and critics across the board are giving it a hero’s welcome.

Sean’s opinion:

We don’t like that. I don’t. They have a lot of screaming music. That Screaming music. I don’t know, I don’t like that CD. What is that anyway? Shut it off, it sounds like screaming.

Dissonant, impossible melodies coil around textured rage, while Bolt Thrower-style imagery of ancient gods and cursed foes erupts from Rutan’s throat like a pissed-off volcano. It’s the most hideously compelling piece of art since Slayer’s Reign in Blood, a record not to be referenced casually. These days, tell someone that you listen to death metal and they’ll look at you as if you said you have a bedwetting problem. Even sycophants of that Andrew W.K. disc will just assume you’re fronting some kind of sub-lowbrow irony. Anderson couldn’t give two shits. "We don’t expect to sell a million records. It would be nice, but we’re not going to compromise. This is what we do, and if people want to disrespect it, fuck ‘em." Hate Eternal’s King of Kings is out now on Earache Records.