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Everything Handful of Hate did after Hierarchy 1999 was more violent than what they did in the first part of their career. The beginning was for a sort of occult black metal, full of more acoustic and evil breaks, while as the time passed by the band started to absorb more violent solutions. The influences came form Marduk and Dark Funeral (especially on Hierarchy 1999) but we could find also some death metal touches to give an even more brutal approach to the genre. Vicecrown album is the very first full length that features these influences and now we are going to analyse it.
Nine tracks for a bit more than 30 minutes are representative for the violence of this album. “I Hate” is the blasting opener of this massive album. The tremolo pickings are full of black metal influences, while the palm muting parts are exactly what I said before, so with more death metal influences. The blast beats are never ending and precise like a metronome, passing easily also on up tempo beats and fast bass drums sections. The vocals are shrieky and really pissed-off. The timbre is evil, nasty and quite occult. The arpeggios on the distorted guitars are perfect to calm down the atmosphere and bring in some more occult section.
On the long road to violence we can find the following “Beating Violence”. The riffs are pure black and this time they are more bound to Hierarchy 1999 and to Dark Funeral style. They are always quite recognizable, easy to memorize and to remember even after just one listen. We can always perceive some more “relaxed” breaks where the band points a bit more on the atmosphere instead of the sheer speed. However, the riffs and the drums are always massive and they are never dull. The main riff on “Risen into Abuse” is pure death/black bestiality with those massive stop and go while we can find even some more galloping riffs in some breaks.
“Bodily Erected” follows a different direction. The tempo is ultra slow, almost funeral but with the malignance of a classic black metal band. The arpeggios once again go to Dark Funeral in inspiration and the vocals draw landscapes of pure misery and perversions. “Vexer’s Kult” and “Carnal Spite” both follow definitely more impulsive sections with loads of blast beats and tremolo pickings. The short length is good to let enjoy everything single second of these furious blast without risking falling asleep. “Hierarch in Lust” has a massive, dark and desecrating main riff. The tempo is slower once more and even this time the atmosphere grows more to transmit a sense of occult and perversion.
“Catharsis In Punishment” has inside the riffage lots of thrash/death metal influences, more than the other tracks. The tempo is less fast but always quite intense, preferring the bass drum work and the up tempo with triplets. However, we can always meet terrific blast beats sections, continuing with the final, monolithic “Vicecrowned Order”. The black peaks here reached are every bit as good as the ones by other more famous acts abroad. In Italy we have fucking great bands but too often they are labelled as “rip-off” without noticing their strong personality and their terrific skills.
A scathing wall of blackened hatred emanates from the digits of “Vicecrown” as Handful Of Hate show that they are amongst the most dark of the black metal acts.
You’ll hear plenty of blasting madness as the band tears through “I Hate” in supremely wicked fashion. In particular, the mixing was done very well on this record, realizing an excellent black metal sound free of trend following and enhancements such as keyboards and digital effects. Instead, you get nine tracks screaming like a rabid bat out of Hell.
High-pitched growls fill out “Beating Violence” as the guitars conform to high register flurries of notes, speeding along vehemently to the continuous blasting. Handful Of Hate deliver frenzied, manic rhythms on “Risen Into Abuse”, where you will find the band to deviate from blasting for brief interludes to insert black mosh mathematics.
The maze of shredding guitar licks in “Vexer’s Kult” makes for a skin shredding attack as the group slices through narrow corridors of violent musical outpourings. With so many black metal artists determined to play a more commercial style in order to broaden their audiences, it’s excellent to find an ensemble that is committed to keeping the true nature of the sound alive.
For all of you diehards that are true to the original style of the genre and can appreciate the rawness of the effort, “Vicecrown” will be of definite interest.