posted on 6/2005 By:
This is it. Eric Rutan is deserving of accolades. In my eyes this band has been struggling to find an identity, a production, and frankly its footing for quite some time now. Nine years of Morbid Angel under anyone's belt is going to create some kind of stylistic influence which takes time to purge and redigest. The original mission statement put forth at the parting of ways, if memory serves, was to stretch the boundaries of death metal in a way he was unable to in the folds of his former band. While the past two albums of MA-Lite were good fun, they neither stretched nor punctured the fabric of musical space-time. It is safe to say that what came before was technically proficient and nothing to scoff at but largely forgettable.
Now somewhat of a death metal institution themselves; the name and what it represents has come a long way since Tim Yeung and Alex Webster joined Mr. Rutan to hash out demo material back in 97. Torrential currents of perversion solidified ex materia, songs found on I, Monarch display flair not present in the band’s previous work. “It Is Our Will” and “To Know Our Enemies” exhibit the kind of growth I have been waiting for in Hate Eternal songwriting. The sound is developed and dares let fly the notion that the technical and brutal schools are allowed to slow things down and explore complex rhythms and tempo outside the furious pace of full throttle blasting. To my delight, the boys from Tampa push the envelope so far on occasion, visions of Close to a World Below skip through my mind. Don’t mistake this album for a second as representative of the kind of entropy Immolation are responsible for but the taint of chaos is there.
Tibetan percussion and didgeridoo may offend the sensibilities of a few fans out there but they are used sparingly within their respective tracks and the atmosphere they create smothers the rumblings of gimmicky retardation just as they arise within the listener's mind. I recall hearing that Rutan was at the helm and is responsible for the production on his previous albums. Either he has been practicing or he outsourced this time around because the mix is splendid. Oppressive and opaque in all the right frequencies; heavy breathing is not encouraged during spans of extended listening due to danger of asphyxiation. All players save the bass and are held together in a concentrated area to maximize potency. While the lack of definition does irk me, at this point it is fairly obvious no band aside from Pavor is going to do the four-stringed lord justice, so I digress.
Altimeter streaming in the dangerous direction and stall warning blazing in their ears, the core of Hate Eternal has given a mighty tug on the yoke to set this flight back on course. In a modern realm of death metal where simply punishing instruments is no longer enough; innovation is king. Time will tell if I, Monarch is remembered as the high watermark but given the amount of progress and quality present here; I smell a magnum opus around the corner. This is more than just another solid death metal album. I am intrigued.
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