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Hate Eternal Remained Solid In Austin Despite Flesh-Melting Temperatures

Photo of Vital Remains

Band Photo: Vital Remains (?)

A rush of cool air relieved my over-taxed pores when I entered Jackalopes. I walked past a girl wearing a Danzig shirt posing for a picture on top of a statue of a giant jackrabbit with horns—the fabled Jackalope. I not only sought shelter from the one-hundred-three-degree inferno that blazed outside, it helped me kill time before Emo’s opened its door a hour-and-a-half later.

While devouring one of the juiciest burgers in town, I noticed other metal heads wearing various death metal shirts entering the establishment. Located just a couple of blocks from the venue, the metal-friendly bar and grill catered to those awaiting the coming death metal onslaught.

In route to the bar, I noticed one of the more conspicuous fans on the other side of the street. Wearing corpse paint that may have been patterned from an old Satyricon or Gorgoroth photo, this fan’s black attire seemed in defiance of the sun’s powerful rays. I guess nobody told this guy he was going to a death metal show. Also, the heat surely streaked his makeup, most likely stinging his eyes. What he lacked in brains he made up for in dedication, though (even though this was a death metal show).

Three or four people stood near the touring vans outside the venue when I walked past Emo’s at around 6:30. The line grew to the front of the next venue when I returned at 7:30. Soon, the line grew to the end of the block—a good sign for the five bands due on stage. The venue opened close to its scheduled time of 8 PM.

Many had showed up early to see openers Skrew take the stage. Anyone who listened to metal in the 1990s should know the name Skrew. The group’s industrial metal style made big waves in the ‘90s. They released three albums on Metal Blade and shared members with Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Overkill and Prong. Skrew broke up in 1998 and reformed two years ago.

First glimpse of the reformed Skrew revealed one of their guitarists playing behind a merch table beside the stage. Two of the members—the keyboardist/backing vocalist and new vocalist Ty Pickett were the only members with room to play on the stage. Equipment surrounded the two and the keyboardist looked very cramped. Although they didn’t play the celebrated style of the night, Skrew’s aggressive energy got a rise from the nearly packed venue.

Due to technical difficulties before the show opened, my interview with Erik Rutan (coming soon) of Hate Eternal happened during Abysmal Dawn’s set. The interview started while they were setting up, and lasted twenty-three minutes, so their set time must have been brief. Near the end of the interview, Hate Eternal bassist J.J. Hrubovcak told us that Abysmal Dawn was tearing it up. I made it down to stage in time to shoot about three pictures. From the little I saw, I would have to agree with Hate Eternal’s newest member.

Although never boasting the success of Morbid Angel or Nile, Vital Remains has remained a fixture in the death metal scene since forming in the late ‘80s. Glen Benton of Deicide growled on the band’s last two albums, which were handled by Scott Wily tonight (and every show since 2008). Benton may be the bigger name, but the spiked-arm Wily is more entertaining. His screams and diabolical poses helped charge the batteries of his hair-twirling mates. Led by band founder and rhythm guitarist, Tony Lazaro, the group once again found the common link between speed and Death-like melodies that comprises their last two recordings—“Dechristianize” and “Icons of Evil.”

Origin’s brand of fast and technical death metal didn't gain the admiration of everbody. While taking a breather in the picnic area/bathroom area, many fans expressed to me how Origin didn’t have enough tempo changes or melody to grab their attention. Even though I enjoyed watching and feeling the group’s complex guitar scale play and ridiculously fast drumming, I don’t own any of their records nor do I plan on buying any.

This was brutal death metal being played in the Austin/San Antonio area, and the metal heads out here love their death metal, so the number of Origin lovers greatly outnumbered the number of haters. The pit activity made this statement ring true. The crowd surfing and stage diving seemed to have lingered from the Autopsy show held here (outside stage) two weeks ago. Jason Keyser, who made his vocal debut on the group’s latest, Nuclear Blast effort “Entity,” commented on the stage diving. He said he wanted all the head bangers to go up front and replace the stage divers. Before the end of the next song, someone dove off the stage…

Earlier in the night, Erik Rutan told me he is so busy running Mana Studios that he only has time to tour two-to-three months out of the year. Usually, these tours happen around the time of a new release. Hate Eternal last released “Fury and Flames” in 2008. 2008 was the last time I saw Hate Eternal play, opening for The Black Dahlia Murder in Dallas. I’m unaware of other tours since then, so fans were eager to see more death metal from the Morbid Angel alumn, especially with Hate Eternal taking the lead slot.

Erik Rutan (guitar,vocals), Jade Siminetto (drums) and J.J. Hrubovcak (bass) opened with the diabolically droning guitars and slowly pumping kick drums of “Rebirth,” the intro from their new album “Phoenix Amongst the Ashes.” Soon, Rutan’s familiar, rolling guitar sound instilled a silence before an explosion of drums on the album’s accompanying track “The Eternal Ruler.” More helicopter head banging ensued and the crowd pressed closer to the stage. I step out of harm’s way on to a wood step and found the perfect place for taking unimpeded pictures.

I recognized mostly material from “Phoenix Amongst the Ashes.” With its dramatically rising and falling guitar scales and memorable refrain, “Thorns of Acacia” was one of the tracks that got people talking. The slowly coiling movement of “The Fire of Resurrection” illuminated ghastly scenes of spells, blood drinking and enormous bon fires. I didn’t catch any material from the first recording “Conquering the Throne,” but Hate Eternal played tracks culled from throughout their career such as the title tracks from “I, Monarch” and set-closer “King of All Kings.”

Hate Eternal’s furious blend of speed, melody, technical guitar shred, and jack hammering double bass drums was both accessible and brutal. The group proved its worth as the headlining band—a position that was well overdue. Erik Rutan and cast were clever in bringing a strong supporting cast, as well. The crowd got a bonus with Skrew. It’s seldom one sees a national, signed band take the opening, local slot. The 103 temperature was nearly unbearable even in the club’s air-conditioned setting (Erik Rutan said it was hot and he’s from Florida), but metal hearts endured!

Check out this Metalunderground.com sponsored tour if you get the chance.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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