Hate Eternal has been stewing inside of Erik Rutan for a while. Most people know Erik as the guitarist for Morbid Angel, but when "Conquering The Throne" was spewed forth last year, an invigorating breath of fresh air was injected into the stale Death Metal scene. Taking the world by storm, Hate Eternal's fresh and exciting brand of Death Metal brutality is too phenomenal to go unnoticed. Using musical ideas he didn't think would fit within the Morbid Angel way of doing things, Erik recruited a band of talented musicians to help him create his vision of a new reign of Death Metal superiority. In addition, Erik is not stopping there; he also has another band project up his sleeve, as well as producing (he recently produced Krisiun's Century Media debut). Founder / frontman / guitar genius / vocalist / lyricist / producer-Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal. Read on and find out what he has in store for us. Move over Peter Tägtgren, you are the busiest man in Metal no more...

Interview by AnneMarie Bowman


Obviously, there is something inside of you that made you feel the need to do your own project. How long have you been cooking this up and why was now the right time?
I decided to do Hate Eternal for personal reasons. One, because I have been around for so long and have done other ventures, you know, Ripping Corpse and Morbid Angel. I felt at the time I started Hate Eternal, which was in 1997, at that time the death metal music coming out was very bad. There were not any good new bands. Only the survivors were in the forefront, Morbid Angel, Deicide and Cannibal Corpse. I just felt that at that time I needed to pursue my own venture. I needed to create a band that would be exciting, and excite the death metal listener once again. Bring it back to how it was when "Altars of Madness" came out. Create a similar vibe on the listener as "Reign In Blood" had on me, or "Altars of Madness" had on me when they came out. I had been thinking about Hate Eternal for a while. I always wanted to sing. I always felt like I was a leader. You know, some people are leaders, some followers. I am a leader so I always felt I wanted to front my own band. Be my own leader, write the music, be the guitarist, and do everything. I always wanted to sing and play. I used to sing back up in Ripping Corpse, but it is not the same as I do now. It is a challenge. I am always trying to push the limits of where I can go, and explore new boundaries with my playing. This was a goal I set, a high goal to achieve, but that is what keeps it interesting for me. That is why I have been around for so long, and I continue to progress as a musician and a player. And as a person in general.

So far, is it going the way you envisioned it as going? Is it going the way you hoped?


For me, it is beyond where I thought it would go. Right now I have the luxury of playing in Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal and I have another band, Alas. Alas will record in June and it will come out on Hammerheart Records. So I have three bands I play with. Two are my own and the other Morbid Angel, has always been my favorite Death Metal band ever. Everything for me is way beyond what I could have possibly expected when I started playing guitar thirteen, fourteen years ago.

Which band do you consider your main band? Is it Hate Eternal?


Well I look at it like this; every one of them is my main band. None of them is a side project. They are all very important to me. They are each important to me for different reasons, but all are equally important to me. I treat every band that I play with equally, with the amount of attention I give each of them. They are all important to me for my career, and my life. I write a lot of music and it is essential for me to get all this music out.

Do you ever foresee a time when you would have to choose between bands?
Well that is the luxury of having the same manager who manages all three of our bands.

He will work with you on scheduling, touring and the like?
Yes. I will be touring all year round, all the time. The good thing is I write a lot of music and lyrics for Hate Eternal and Alas. With Morbid Angel, Trey writes a lot of the music, I work with them but Morbid is Trey's band. Trey loves the fact I do Hate Eternal, to me it is about constantly working. Some people play in only one band, get off tour, take two months off, and do nothing. I choose to use that time to work on music, and express myself in that fashion.

You made a statement earlier in the interview that I want to expand on a bit. You felt that Death Metal had become stagnant, and you wanted to bring some excitement back into it. I think you have achieved that with Hate Eternal by the way, but what do you think were the reasons for the sorry state of Death Metal in the mid to late 90's? In addition, what do you think is happening now, because I think it is getting better again.
I think what happened was there were too many bands. Everybody started a band, and tried to clone other bands. It got out of control. So many Death Metal, Black Metal, extreme Metal bands just sounded like clones. I think that was the problem. Back in the early days, there were many bands, but it was different. They were not all alike as they are now. In the late 80's and early 90's, there was an assortment of types of bands. Now there are TONS of bands, and they are not all doing anything original. I think people got sick and tired of it. And I think that is why bands like Angelcorpse, Krisiun, Marduk and Dark Funeral were started, bands that wanted to create something to liven it up a bit. I feel now that things are very positive with extreme music in general. Some people want to down a band like Slipknot. I am not a fan of there's, in fact I've never heard their music, but they are big, and they do have elements of Metal, and to me that is a positive thing. Because they are not Pearl Jam, it is Metal, and they are establishing fans. I think that is good for all of Metal.

Do you think their fans will trickle down into extreme Metal?
I think so. For me, I started listening to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. To quench my thirst for heavier music I started listening to Slayer and Morbid Angel.

I went that same way...
I read a Slipknot interview where they said they were fans of Morbid Angel, to me that is cool. There are many different Metal bands doing a lot of different things and I think it is all good for the scene.

Hate Eternal is a three piece right now, will you be adding another member or keep it this way?
We were originally a three piece. It is good for me as I can highlight my playing. I like it as a three piece; it is a good experience for me, a totally new experience. I am enjoying it, it is like a rush of Death Metal, it is kind of cool, and I like it.

When I saw you live it didn't seem to me you were missing anything... When you put this band together how did you go about getting members? Did you put out feelers- Erik Rutan is putting a band together-and did a lot of people respond?
Yes, they responded to an extent...

Were you able to pick and choose?
Yes, I hand picked everybody I play with. With Alas and Hate Eternal, I chose everyone for a reason. For their playing, their attitude. I tried out lots of guys. It is just about picking the right people, that is the hardest to do. People who are talented but also dedicated at the same time. In addition, their loyalty. Are you willing to tour with a band for five weeks, be miserable, and not make any money? Because that is the facts and if you are willing, then that is dedication. Some people are, and some people are not. People who are not fall by the wayside; people who are stick it through. Right now, the way it is, it is perfect.

What happened to Tim Yeung, the drummer who played on the recording of "Conquering the Throne"?
He had other ventures he wanted to pursue. School, some other things. He has other things he wants to do in life. For me, I need a drummer who just wants to do music, that's it. Derek Roddy from Malevolent Creation / Divine Empire has stepped in and he is a phenomenal drummer, and the only guy who could possible replace Tim. I feel he is a great asset to the band. Moreover, he is from Florida...

The tour you just did with Cannibal Corpse, how did it go?
It was BIG. It went excellent.

Do you think it makes a difference when they put a strong package together for a tour? Like including European bands, Black Metal bands, instead of just putting American Death Metal bands out on the road together?
Sure it helps, having different bands. That's why in Europe the packages are always mixed. Black Metal, Death Metal, shit sometimes you get eight bands on a show! Then everyone comes out. So I think it is beneficial. I guess it is easier to do those kinds of things in Europe though. In America, it is a lot more difficult.

I have noticed that Cannibal Corpse have always been very open to giving different bands opening spots on their tours, very generous.
Yes, they been very supportive of the scene. They have had Angelcorpse, Immolation, and Hate Eternal.

They have given many European bands their first chance at touring America...
They want to give the fans their money's worth. I felt great about touring with Cannibal Corpse.

I want to talk about how you write music for Hate Eternal, and when do you get the time to do it? Was it a case of writing riffs and just knowing they would not work for Morbid Angel?
Well I write all the time. And yes, that's exactly it.

Do you record them right away? Do you have one of those portable studio things?
Yeah, well I am a producer and recording engineer also, so I have a lot of different recording formats. Sometimes when I write a riff I record it right away, other times I memorize it. I might forget everything else, but I definitely remember riffs! I usually try to write a song from beginning to end, and then work on it. Like I will say, man that sounds like an intro riff, and then I go from there.

So for this record you wrote all the music, did all the arrangements. What about going forward? What will be the contributions of the other members?
For the next Hate Eternal record we are all going to write. Derek plays guitar also, and Jared [Anderson, bass/backing vocals] writes a lot of stuff. The next record will be more of a whole band. The first record was more personal, for me. Same with the Alas, I wrote all the music and lyrics for it, the next one will be a band project.

Will they also contribute lyrics?
Yes. Jared writes lyrics, and sings. He is a frontman in his own band. That's how I got him. He writes some great lyrics and he will be helping.

I only have the promo, so I do not have lyrics. Based on the song titles, I can guess a bit of what they represent and I would like to ask you what they mean to you.
They are based on my personal beliefs and my values. Things of interest. I read a lot so I have always been into different religions and cultures. "Catacombs" is really about the Aztecs. I t depends on how I feel as to where I get my inspiration from. Reading, and visions and emotions I have. Everything I do is very personal.

Although they are personal, are they written in an allegorical way so that different people can interpret them in different ways?
Yeah that is how I try to approach all the lyrics I write. Sometimes I like to write lyrics that are not so direct so to give the listener some surprises. Same with music, I like to write stuff guitar wise that people might not notice right off but maybe after twenty thirty listens you will say yeah, I get it. With me, that is always the approach, never give everything off right away. You want to make the listener think. That is my goal. It takes a meticulous listener to listen to Hate Eternal. There is a lot of stuff going on there...

Yeah, but it's not too busy...
I try to write good structured songs.

Yeah, I like when music is not so mechanical, and there is a bit of feeling and melody. I do not like overly technical music.
I try to steer clear of that. Lyrically and musically writing a good song is a big factor. To me it is important, not just a bunch of riffs. I can write the most technical riff in the world, but I would rather base my songs on feeling than on technicality. You can be as technical as possible, but in the long run it doesn't mean anything if it isn't a good song.

You have the European tour coming up, what is after that?
First, I record the next Morbid Angel record. Then I do the Alas record, and then I will probably do another Hate Eternal tour in the summer.

And when are you going to sleep?