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Essentially the equivalent of Fleshgod Apocalypse's older, gnarled and twisted brother, Hour of Penance are one of the Italian death metal scene's finest exports. This is fast, furious and face-ripping beyond belief brutal death metal that will leave you gasping for breath by the time its steam rolled over your soul.
Drawing comparisons to Fleshgod... (again, I know but they're damn similar) Hour of Penance tone it down on the technicality but gloss things up with some great grooves and some genuinely good riffs. A perfect example of this is in "The Woeful Eucharisty" around 2.34 seconds into the track, they unleash one of the dirtiest riffs I've heard drawing to mind Morbid Angel at their finest slow and sludge-ridden moments, this section of the song begs you to pull your meanest face and flail around to the groove. Throughout the duration of Paradogma the band twist between the aforementioned fast and furious parts and the slower grooves over a back drop of superb double pedal work.
Not a lot needs to be said about this release, it's some of the finest straight up brutal death metal from 2010. Honestly, take one look at that album cover and trust me, this album sounds like the image depicted. The perfect accompanying album to Fleshgod Apocalypse's Oracles, for a lesson in ass-kicking by two of the finest death metal acts to come out of Italy. Seriously awesome music and highly recommended to all fans of the genre.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
When most people think of countries known for death metal, Italy probably does not immediately come to mind. Yet it seems that over the last decade or so, Italy has gradually begun proving itself as a source of some of the most truly awesome modern death metal out there (Illogicist, Blasphemer, Septycal Gorge, Vomit the Soul, Fleshgod Apocalypse, etc.). Hour of Penance is one of the strongest bands leading this Italian onslaught. Their 2008 release, The Vile Conception, was the best album of their career up to that point and one of the best brutal death metal albums released that year. Now Hour of Penance has returned with the newest slab of brutality, Paradogma and it definitely has been worth the wait.
Paradogma manages to not only match the quality of The Vile Conception, but also exceeds it in some areas. The production is thicker and meatier, yet somehow clearer than The Vile Conception. This helps magnify Hour of Penance's already intense attack to insane levels. Similar to modern Behemoth, many of the songs have the feeling of a steamrolling tank barreling ahead at top speed. On Paradogma, Hour of Penance's songs are also more distinguishable than they have been in the past. They achieve this by having more tempo variation within the songs, memorable yet complicated riffs, and leads that really stick in your head. Actually, most of the songs are downright catchy...especially when they blend all of these various elements within one single song like in "The Woeful Eucharisty" or "Malevolence of the Righteous." In fact, the album is packed full of winning tracks. There's really not a bad one in the bunch. The closest they come is the last track, "Apotheosis," which feels more or less tacked on to the end of the album. It does not sound anything like the preceding half hour. Its riffs are more repetitive and the vocals are yelled rather than growled. It sounds more like an outro with an eerie soundtrack vibe than an actual song. Maybe the intention was for the track to wind things down at the end of the album after the beat-down that was delivered earlier. If so, it serves its purpose, even if it feels a tad unnecessary and out of place. Lyrically, the whole album is essentially anti-religion (although you probably guessed that by looking at the cover), yet they never get too heavy-handed to the point of unintentional humor like Aeon has been known to do. Being from the home of Roman Catholicism, it seems totally justifiable for them to tread these well-worn lyrical topics. Franceso Paoli (also of Fleshgod Apocalypse) delivers these lyrics with severe intensity. His growls are stronger than ever. The guitars benefit immensely from the clear production and cut through the mix with ease. The bass guitar and the drums rumble along beneath everything, laying a massive foundation. The drums are obviously triggered, but they fit perfectly with the music and manage to sound huge without sounding too fake or drowning out the other instruments.
While Paradogma is not really anything you haven't heard before, it is still destined to be one of the year's best brutal death metal releases. This album delivers an unrelenting sonic punch to the gut of Christianity with intensity, precision, and power. Old fans should be pleased. Hour of Penance has managed to make an album that retains the excellence of The Vile Conception, yet sounds just different enough from their previous releases to keep things interesting. To the uninitiated: Hour of Penance does not sound quite like any one band, but if a blend of modern Behemoth, Krisiun, Nile, and just a pinch of Cannibal Corpse sounds good to you, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com
Rome's Hour of Penance have now released their fourth album. Entitled Paradogma, it's a worthy follow-up to this collective's widely praised third offering, The Vile Conception.
The band's modus operandi on Paradogma is straight-forward, but no less compelling for its simplicity: Play blackened death metal, play it really fast, and make the music vicious.
That is not to say the album falls prey to monotony. The songs most assuredly do not all sound alike. They are creatively structured to feed your need for brutality while striking that primordial chord in your brain stem that makes you want to jump and move. Paradogma swallows you up in a miasma of dark fury that seethes in its intensity, yet infects you with hooks and melodies that will cause the songs to re-play in your head long after the music stops. It's simply one of the best modern death-metal albums I've heard so far this year.
I’ll start by segmenting the band's assault into its sharp-edged component pieces. I’m compelled to begin with Mauro Mercurio's drumming: It's jaw-dropping in its speed, power, and variety, and it dominates the sound on this album. In fact, I found myself unintentionally focusing on what he was doing to such an extent that at times the rest of the music began to blur around the edges of my consciousness. The blast beats and double bass are inhumanly fast and brutally propulsive, but equally transfixing are Mercurio's rapid shifts in both rhythms and the attention he devotes to different drums in his kit. And just for good measure, in case your attention somehow begins to wander over to one of the other instruments, he periodically punctuates the percussive maelstrom with single-note, reverberating slams that sound like bombs going off. Silvano Leone's bass is locked in tightly with Mercurio's drumming and his playing is nimble and sharp.
On any given song, Giulio Moschini may establish an ominous, distorted melody with his grinding riffs sawing away like industrial blades cracking concrete, but then may break into an even more rhythmic riff that makes your head want to start banging away, and then may bolt into a solo of either furious or hauntingly ethereal quality. His blazing riffs and the way they interact with the rhythm section infuse the songs with memorable grooves. Francesco Paoli's vocals are simply awesome -- deep, gurgling growls, giving way to hair-raising howls, and frequently matching the speed and intensity of the rhythm section with rapid-fire staccato bursts of words tumbling over each other.
On Paradogma, Hour of Penance have managed to create memorable songs despite maintaining a generally fast and furious technical attack. One song departs dramatically from the generally prevailing tempo. "Spiritual Ravishment" is a self-contained study in contrasts. It launches itself in a pummeling assault on the senses with perhaps the most ravaging combination of drumming and riffing on the album, but then shifts without warning into an extended mid-tempo instrumental, as a synthesizer takes over with a combination of rhythmic throbbing and brooding melody, accompanied only by Mercurio's solitary pounding.
I should add one final word about the last song on the album, called "Apotheosis". I’m not saying that it’s my favorite track (and I’m not sure I could pick a favorite even at gunpoint), but it probably is the most infectious. As the volume builds at the start, an almost industrial-style rhythm is established, and then the music shifts down into a slower pace as Paoli begins to shout out angry words. Following a short bridge, Moschini starts hammering out a prolonged, repetitive, massively compulsive riff, Mercurio puts on a display behind the kit, and the sound of bells chime in the background. It’s a fitting end to a wonderful collection of music.
I love it when an album lives up to all your expectations and surpasses them on all levels. Sadly this is a rare occurence with a very diluted death metal genre. For several months I have waited for the release of Paradogma with eager anticipation, and I have to say it was worth the wait. The thing that stands out to me the most is the precision of each instrument. This is partly due, I'm sure, to a great job of the mixing process. The production on this album is great. The drums come out of the speakers with thunderous force, the guitars have excellent tone, and yes, if you take the time to notice, you can hear the bass distinctly.
It seems like most bands just follow the genre leaders when it comes to song writing, sound, and overall delivery, well Hour of Penance have decided to be the leaders of the pack to kick off the new decade of death metal. All other bands should take notice to the attention placed on the songwriting here, not just the "brutality" of it. Each song on Paradogma is carefully written to stand apart from the song before it and has it's own identity. And after each song you feel like you've been given something great. The album closes with a great prologue that brings the whole thing together, leaving you satisfied with what you've just heard.
Sometimes musicians play outside thier own abilities in the race to be more "technical" than everybody else. Hour of Penance do not have this problem. Each member shreds his own instrument with precision and the mixing synchronized them perfectly for the cd. I could go on and on about this album but if you're a fan of great, powerful, brutal death metal (who isn't?), just get this album for yourself and I'm sure you'll be as satisfied as I am.
Hour of Penance set the new standard!!!!!