Hate Eternal – Fueling the Inferno

Sunday, 20th September 2015

If there is one band that is synonymous with scorching brutality, it’s Hate Eternal. There’s no other band out that that can truly crush your ears the way that Hate Eternal does, album after album. But there’s more to it than that (otherwise, why would we continue to listen to new albums?). There’s an undercurrent of melodies that the band are experts at sinking below the surface – allowing listeners to discover new elements as they continue to blast their way through each listen.

The band’s newest album, Infernus, is no exception to this rule. Full of ferocious death metal sure to turn away any casual listener, there’s still plenty of memorable riffs for fans to sink their teeth into. DR was able to talk with bassist J.J. Hrubovcak one Saturday morning to discuss the finer points of Hate Eternal’s long-standing brutality. Read below for plenty of Infernus talk, and even a bit about Hrubovcak’s Death Metal Christmas album that was released two years ago.

Dead Rhetoric: First off, how is Erik’s [Rutan] hand recovery going?

J.J. Hrubovcak: Going well! I know he’s been doing a lot of exercises and playing as much as possible. He’s pushing it, but I like to call it, “active rehab.” When you have an injury, you have to actively rehab it if you want to get back into it.

Dead Rhetoric: It seems like that whole tour [The Metal Alliance 2015 with Deicide and Entombed A.D.] was just a trainwreck.

Hrubovcak: I don’t know what was going on. There was so much misinformation and craziness. I know that Glenn Benton got the brunt of it in the press. I don’t know whose fault any of it was, but I know we had an excellent tour. We loved it; we had a great time on the road. I loved playing with Deicide. I’m an early ‘90s death metal fan so I love Morbid Angel, Deicide, Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, and stuff like that. Watching those songs every night, that was excellent. As far as the general tour went, it was successful for us.

Dead Rhetoric: It was four years between Phoenix and Infernus, any reasons for the time between albums?

Hrubovcak: Probably the search for a drummer. We were writing a lot and Erik is very busy; he does a lot of production work so lots of times that can cause delays in our writing process. It was that coupled with Jade [Simonetto] exiting. It ended up putting a bit of a crimp in our timeline. But Chason, we were watching his videos and he came in and just nailed it. He really pushed the envelope. Everything he did [on Infernus] was just tasty.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel that Chason Westmoreland added to the drumming on Infernus?

Hrubovcak: I think each drummer has their own strong points. Everybody contributes in a different way. Derek [Roddy] was an innovator in the genre, and Jade was excellent as far as accuracy and groove. If you go back and listen to his records, the amount of stuff he put in – he was strong in a lot of areas. Then Chason came in, and he’s a total animal. He’s got groove also, but it’s more spastic. He’s very spastic [laughs]. Erik has a history of getting great drummers into the band that just kill it.

Dead Rhetoric: With Hate Eternal setting a benchmark for just sheer brutality, is there an added stress of having to live up to/surpass that standard each time?

Hrubovcak: No. We really just do what’s in our gut. We write for our internal chatter. It’s basically the way we speak. It always ends up coming out aggressive. There’s really no pressure to live up to anything and there’s no compulsion to do something again because we’ve done it in the past. We have a new record, and we start fresh and we just do it.

Dead Rhetoric: What is the songwriting process like sit down to record a new album?

Hrubovcak: Basically we’ll both write riffs. Erik lives in Florida and I live in up in New Jersey. For us, it’s about getting together when we can, and lots of times we will block out periods of time to jam together. But we’ll also send pro tools files back and forth to each other. We’ll write riffs and we’ll arrange them and send ideas back and forth on how to change the riffs around. So the writing process is very collaborative. It’s awesome. I was saying to someone else, that it’s an actual band – we collaborate, we bounce ideas off each other, and there’s contributions from everybody.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel it would be possible to work in that same manner before the Internet was around in its current state?

Hrubovcak: I think I would be flying down there more, or I would have moved by this point. That would probably be the difference [laughs]. It wouldn’t be easy to mail tapes back and forth. It would be like “here, check this one riff out! I’ll record it on a 90 minute tape and then send it to you and it’ll be there in a week.” The Internet, obviously is a great tool!

Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that Infernus is some of the most challenging material that the band has accomplished to date?

Hrubovcak: It’s say as far as difficulty of play, it really depends on the riffs. In the bass arena, I really tried to accommodate the riffs and support the guitar. The last record, I think I tried to overplay it a little bit. I came from a guitar background, so I treated it as a third guitar instead of a bass. So I did a lot of flying around on that record. When I listen to it, I like what I did, but on Infernus, I think I was able to support the guitar riffs a lot more on the bass. It’s about complimenting the riffs instead of playing root notes or instead of completely going against the riffs. I chose notes very carefully and chose notes that would harmonize in a proper way. The bass came out really well in the production, so you can basically hear every bass note on Infernus. The production really brought out every single note.

As far as difficulty of play, there are a lot of really hard parts in the Hate Eternal catalog for sure. I remember when I joined for the Fury & Flames tour – Alex’s parts are just crazy! I feel that I added a lot of difficult parts myself on the record. But the main thing is that it’s not difficult for the sake of being difficult you know? It’s all about the song. When we write, we think about songs, not about technicality. It’s all about how the song tells a story from start to finish.

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