Hard Reviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Hate Eternal - Conquering The Throne
(Wicked World/Earache)

Hate Eternal is the highly anticipated collaboration between Suffocation guitarist Doug Cerrito and Ripping Corpse/Morbid Angel guitarist Erik Rutan. Once more, here's one that is as good as anything in the genre, if a little samey at times, a little too faithful to a certain acrobatic, blistering form of death. The riffs are top-notch, melody, a combination of arcane and non-existent. Drums? Quite often all we get is a faked, electronic double kick blast. But this is not exactly blasphemous anymore. Nor is it distracting or exclusive, Tim Yeung contributing some killer percussion at and above the genre's usually high chops levels. Like I've argued before, there are so many death records worthy of top grades right now, it's hard to come up for a really good reason to praise or dis something. On originality, this one's middling at best. On execution and songwriting within constraining parameters, it's awe-inspiring.
Rating 7.5

The Kovenant - Animatronic
(Nuclear Blast)

Nagash, Blackheart and Hellhammer are now Lex Icon, Psy Coma and Von Blomberg. Covenant is now The Kovenant. Half the band has been fired. And the look is now some futuristic cross between Tiamat and Satyricon. The music enclosed? Well, the artful, sparkly black metal music with evil astronomy lyrics is now starchy, forward-marching, techno-supported goth industrial metal somewhere between dumbed-down Sentenced and most pertinently, the new Samael record, Eternal. It's totally different from the old Covenant, but still somewhat worthy of your care, many tracks on this working as hooky, mysterious metal with a futuristic eye and a poetic black core. I like the Samael more, and I like the old Covenant more, but I applaud the idea of growth, even if it is drastic and somewhat plastic. Animatronic is such a systematic re-invention, a disappointment in its simplified binary-fired direction, but an inspiring example of people changing through their mid-20s, artists growing, musicians sincerely devouring new modes of thinking.
Rating 7