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There’s something to be said for unceasing brutality. Though naturally lacking in dynamic range, it can be incredibly cathartic, especially when the riffing is strong and the leads are memorable. Such is the general experience here on Sedition, the 5th such excursion from Italians Hour of Penance, a non-stop Christ-slaying, blast-beating, blood soaked half an hour that continues to refine the raw hatred the band have purveyed all along. This will be instantly appealing to anyone with a proclivity towards a number of other occult death metal projects, such as Behemoth, Krisiun, Nile, Azarath, Chaos Inception, Vital Remains, etc. etc. etc. on into the sunset. If that seems to imply that this is not a very unique battering, that’s because it isn’t… but that doesn’t mean it can’t be satisfying, and thanks to both extreme instrumental skill and well-written songs, it most certainly qualifies as such.
True to the established book of occult death metal tropes, Hour of Penance really hate Christianity, and boy do they want you to know it. Practically every lyric here is about some form of conquest, bloodshed, godly regicide, and allusions to torture and rape. Objectifying of women as wombs to be forcefully conquered aside (if you’re not already numb to this mongoloid aspect of death metal), the lyrics are generally well-written, and serve as an effective figure riding high on the wave of savage riffing. While the tonality and tempo remain much the same throughout, thus innately blending a lot of the less vibrant riffing patterns, they’re universally effective as a means of conveying the Eastern-tinged leads, which are both fun and delectable. Some of these progressions really stick to the ribs, while others simply blast by with the force of a stampeding unit of legionnaires, but you can be rest assured that Sedition never even comes close to boring. It’s one of those records that works in a very narrow field of appeal, but does what it does so well that anyone that could conceivably enjoy it based on predisposition to music of this nature most certainly will. The aesthetic here is just so dark, celeritous, and downright hateful that a good portion of the death metal populace will definitely want to take note.
Despite the direct, clubbing repetition that is this album in a nutshell, or more perhaps more accurately because of it, the entirety of the product is pretty damn satisfying. It’s short, stormy and brutal, contains fuck-tons of ancient-sounding, seismically pissed off riffs, and is monstrously well executed. It’s a consistent pleasure to bask in the raw talent here, especially of drummer Simone Piras (who has since departed the band), more a cyclone than a man, lending violent intricacy to an already tactful armada of riffs. Despite the inherent similarities of many of these selections of notation, flowing like a tsunami of blackened ooze over Jerusalem, they’re without fail well-constructed, and it’s important to note that there are also about a thousand of them. Giulio Moschini has also written a sizeable array of ungodly reptilian leads that snake out and overlay these celeritous storms, and these help define each track, as well as imbue a large amount of excitement to an already punishing production. Vocals are the expected pulverizing growl, for all intents and purposes acting as another percussive instrument, and the production keeps a firm balance, save for only vaguely intelligible bass lines.
Essentially, Sedition of a safe bet for most any propagator of brutal, fiery death metal. True, it harnesses a very limited range of influences, and doesn’t do anything particularly unique, but its selection of riffing is so dark, sweet, and downright explosive, it might as well have been forged in a chocolate volcano. This brand of Eastern-infused, conquering death metal is pretty popular these days, and there are a number of sources from whom to get your fix, but Hour of Penance do it about as well as anyone. If a single parallel were to be drawn, it would be to Behemoth, as Sedition truly feels very close to the more intense conjurations from its Polish peers (if less compositionally dynamic), so take that as you will. Personally, I think if one is going to channel modern influences, they should take them from the best of the best, so I’m alright with this outcome.
Truly, Hour of Penance have gone from strength to strength, and anyone who has enjoyed them in the past, or just likes the newer breed of brutal death metal in general (this is a pretty far cry from throwback cavern-core or old-school Swedish) will find this a dense, satisfying record. It’s great to see this type of riffing, fundamentally rooted in the precepts forged by Morbid Angel, and tempered in the steel of strong modern brutality, being so widely utilized, and so well, at that. As this trend (and I mean that word in a good way, for once) continues, we should be seeing even more punishing, diabolical releases such as this, and in a metal world clogged to the tits with 90’s-fondling throwback material and the generic bro-slammings of deathcore (which is almost unanimously undeserving of the moniker ‘death’), that’s an increasingly pleasing scenario. That said, I wouldn’t mind some innovation, but in this world, I’ll take what I can get. So long as that’s not a required selling point for you, though, Sedition is satisfying in both proof of concept and legitimate application, and is a worthy addition to any ravenous death maven’s collection.
-Left Hand of Dog
Hour of Penance: Italy’s answer to Behemoth. If I could get away with it, that would be my single sentence review.
Decent riffs, full intensity, and about as fast and aggressive as it gets, though the production is polished to a high gloss. The drums in actuality sound quite bad. This album is a big dose of newer Behemoth and a fair amount of Fleshgod Apocalypse. A number of songs have the “Middle Eastern”, Phrygia feel. To me it feels played out. Unfortunately, there is nothing going on rhythmically to compliment this sound. This album is very rhythmically monotonous. Blast beats upon blast beats with the slick veneer of the production on this album feels tedious about half way through. On top of that, there is not a shred of creativity to this album and the only really worthwhile song is probably Deprave to Redeem.
I appreciate the lyrical content (well put together anti-Christian lyrics, and knowing they're not far from the Vatican is a nice extra) and the album cover is quite sexy, but I can only allot so much merit for these things.
That said, it is a bit of intensity and a fun listen, though definitely nothing special. If you want to hear the Middle Eastern vibe done much better, check out Melechesh. If you want over produced, high-intensity over-the-topness, try Beneath the Massacre. For a better overall package of technical-ish brutal death metal, try Kronos.
In conclusion: fast, intense, decent riffs, but generic and very much a one-trick pony. Ultimately it’s quite unremarkable.
These guys have established a good track record over the past decade with a series of strong releases, and with new members on drums and vocals the band had the task of showing that they had not lost their edge with these personnel changes. The resulting record is absolutely crushing. All bands in this vein are heavy, but Sedition has a sense of flow and cohesion that actually heightens the the intensity. In a simple non-stop barrage the crushing riffs, manic leads, and inhumanly intense drumming might begin to lose its impact and just wash over the listener like white noise. But Hour of Penance don't do that. Instead they introduce traces of melody you can grab hold of like a drowning man clinging to a raft, and then they start pounding away once they're sure you aren't going anywhere. Brief windows appear where you can catch your breath, just enough to keep you going, then the battering continues. The formula really works well, because instead of merely turning on the meat grinder like many brutal bands do, this record grabs hold of you and actively drags you through it.
There three specific features that really stand out to me above the rest in this album. The first is the vocal work. It's not the ultra low guttural burping that many bands think they have to use in order to sound brutal. Instead it's fairly mid-range, but it comes at you with intensity. This is not a deliberate death growl focused on tone, it's a bellowing attack that comes with enough force that it becomes ragged purely as a by-product of its animal ferocity. The second feature is the lead guitar. There are actually some carefully paced and well crafted solos over top of the frothing sea of intensity which stand out as surprisingly melodic. These speak not only of the band's musical capabilities, they also serve the valuable function of keeping the listener engaged as closely as possible with the music. Finally, the drumming is a standout feature from a purely technical standpoint. Its speed and power are driving, battering, and relentless. It is the engine that keeps the brutal technical end of the music crashing forward while you are being lured in by the guitar leads.
I honestly don't listen to much in the brutal technical death metal range because it often feels to me like the bands are so worried about pummeling the listener that they forget to engage their audience's interest. In this case, though, I was pulled in as I was brutalized. As a result, this release stands as one of the best listening experiences I've had with this type of record in recent memory. Also, the album artwork is pretty sweet.
(Originally published on beardsetc.blogspot.com)
Hour of fucking Penance is an Italian technical death metal band, but you already knew that unless you live life under a bag of rocks. They’re also an awesome band, so prepare your ears when you crack open their latest release – 2012’s Sedition. Trying to focus on writing with this thing blasting off in your ears is like trying to prevent your dick from hardening while a probably-underage stripper bounces her titties at you, but you can only see this from the reflection in the bathroom mirror as you fist her ass. Yeah, I’m sure all the homosexual readers are groaning, but just pretend it’s a guy. I know that’s what you do every time your gramma serves you cookies. What was I saying? Oh, yeah. This album is awesome, and distracting, because I want to headbang and sing along to lyrics I can’t understand. Bear with my trainwreck of a review.
The album should not have individual tracks. All tracks should have been combined into a single song. They should have called this single song “Sedition,” after the album title. Alternatively, they could have separated album opener “Transubstantiatio” form the rest of the album and rename it “My Dick.” The reason I say this is not because I’m obsessed with my penis (I am), but because this album sounds like one continuous track. It feels odd – not good nor bad, but odd – if I start with one of the middle tracks. It almost feels like I’m starting in the middle of a song. Now maybe the stuff I just said makes more sense, eh? No? Well, moving on…
A lot of this album’s lyrical and symbolic content is based around religion being evil. Good. The truth is always a nice thing to hear. Their past releases, most notably Paradogma in 2010 and The Vile Conception of 2008, are definitely anti-religion. Sedition, though, has something that Hour of Penance’s past works didn’t have; a stellar fucking sound. They’ve always sounded good – at least as far back as 2005’s Pageantry for Martyrs. Their latest effort sees them focus their sound and develop their hatred for idiots from an offensive lyrical device into a powerful, punishing, pummeling force of metal. Between the technical-but-melodious riffing lead guitarist Guilio Moschini slings from his axe, the brutal, unrelenting vocal presence of vocalist/guitarist Paolo Pieri, the formidable basswork of Silvano Leone, and the unbelievably-fast drumming that must put lesser drummers in full body casts from mere exposure, courtesy of drummer Simone Piras (who has since been replaced), Sedition is not just an album – it’s a fucking record.
As I mentioned earlier, the album’s opener is called “Transubstantiatio.” Good luck pronouncing that. Seriously, try it. I can say up to “Tran sub” before I think of sandwiches and stop giving a fuck. Anyways, it leads very abruptly into “Enlightened Submission,” which is probably about being bent over while studying for your next science test. The song is a good barometer for how fast the drums go – probably like a billion BPM or something – but doesn’t have the same melody to its guitar riffs as the next song, the aptly-titled “Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God.” The album is made up of plenty of simple but well-structured guitar riffs, technical backing passages, and intense melodies that are distinct enough to separate one song from another. “Decimate” will soon be known to you as “that song that goes WOOAAAAAAA WAA WAA WAAAAEEEEAAAA!” And before you ask, yes; that’s exactly what the melody sounds like. It’s fucking awesome.
The drum fills on this album will relentlessly destroy you, wait for the melodies of the guitars to resurrect you, and then destroy you again like some kind of Jesus Christ fairy tale with a happy ending. I hear a lot of poor, bland, unimaginative drum fills from today’s metal, and I think I’ll just redirect those bands to “Fall of the Servants” – the fourth track on Sedition – because it has drums that lead the mix in sound and presence, but build upon the framework that the guitars contribute. That’s death metal drumming at some of its best and brightest, and it suits Hour of Penance’s style better than any of their other approaches thus far. You don’t always have to be as fast as this guy, but contributing to the mix and the song structuring is essential – something this particular drummer did quite well, as far as I’m concerned.
The guitars and the drumming both give way to Paolo’s vocals, eventually, as they indeed take the spotlight during most of the album. Every band member gets to shine; what with the relationship between the drum and the bass, the melody of the technical riffs, and the technicality of the melodious riffs, there’s no doubt that Hour of Penance is a complete band with a complete lineup. The vocals are the fiery steeds of Satan that truly drive this beast straight into your ears, though, and they excel at every turn. I found myself expecting the typical, “just okay” vocals from this record, and was equally surprised and elated when I got “fan-fuckin’-tastic” ones. It’s really great stuff, and the best track to examine this in is without a doubt “The Cannibal Gods” – a standout amongst standouts with an incredible backing guitar and a stellar mixing of vocals.
At the end of the day, despite my wish that the album was presented more like an unpausable theatre movie, I can’t deny that the Italian warriors are fucking incredible. Sedition has everything that the band lacked on previous endeavours. This time, they bring all their knives to the gunfight, as it were, and hurl them straight into your eardrums like demon monkey ass ninjas. Instead of hurting, it instantly kills you and takes you (ironically enough) to a metal Heaven of sorts. Good on them; it’s been a long time coming. There are a lot of epic riffs, amazing vocals, and aggressive drum fills on this record to kill twelve cows, but it’s how they come together in the seamless listening experience you get that makes this album truly worthy of a full 10 out of 10. It’s an album that you will not fully appreciate without several listens; it hits you with powerful moments the first time around, but only after your first few times through will you realize how well they build up to make their powerful moments so powerful. Perhaps it’s less of a single-track “movie,” and more of a DVD with scene selection – and you know what? That’s just alright with me. Cheers.
2. “Enlightened Submission”
3. “Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God”
6. “The Cannibal Gods”
7. “Sedition Through Scorn”
In 2010 a meltdown at a gig in Spain resulted in drummer Mauro Mercurio being ejected from Hour of Penance. The incident also gave vocalist Francesco Paoli the extra incentive to leave for a full-time job within the soon-to-be-greener pastures of Fleshgod Apocalypse. Many fans doubted Hour of Penance's future. Yet the band was back on the road touring with a new lineup virtually overnight. Would this new version of Hour of Penance continue to soldier on? If so, what would the new material sound like?
These questions have just been answered by Hour of Penance's latest album, Sedition. In a nutshell, the band still sounds surprisingly like the Hour of Penance we have come to know, though the band's sound is not quite as relentless. In fact, Sedition is slightly more accessible than previous albums. Admittedly, the differences are minor. By anyone's frame of reference Sedition would be considered "intense," but it's lacking some of the severity of 2010's Paradogma. While new vocalist Paolo Pieri isn't quite as powerful as Paoli, he comes damn close. Pieri is certainly no slouch, but his voice doesn't have the same intense character. Another area where the intensity is dialed-back somewhat is in the songs themselves. This is where the "accessibility" comes into play. The tunes on Sedition are easier to recognize immediately and at times have more breathing room within their structures than the tracks on Paradogma. Don't get me wrong. Sedition is without a doubt recognizable as an Hour of Penance album. The basic foundation of suffocating, chaotic riffage and pounding drums is still intact (New drummer Simone Piras does an incredible job). And comparisons to heavyweights like Behemoth and Nile still hold true. However, Sedition brings us a more catchy Hour of Penance. Simple dark melodic leads give the listener something to latch onto immediately. Many of these "leads" are actually more like melodic themes in the songs. Since there are no true vocal melodies, these melodies stick in the mind instead. "The Cannibal Gods" has a recurring melodic lead lifted straight from the Watain / Dissection playbook that is impossible to forget. Melody is not the only source of catchiness on Sedition. While the music can certainly be oppressively suffocating, rhythmic shifts and stop / start parts open up the songs and give them some breathing room. "Fall of the Servants" and "Sedition Through Scorn" both make use of these rhythmic changes. The dark melodies and strong rhythms really unite forces on the album highlight, "Ascension," which may be Hour of Penance's most accessible and catchy song to date.
Sedition shows us a slightly different version of the Hour of Penance we have come to know in recent years. Yet, the fact that the band has managed to more or less retain the Hour of Penance sound after losing two crucial members is highly impressive. Judging Sedition on it's own merits, it's an amazing album. Nevertheless, it's impossible not to compare Sedition to earlier releases. I personally prefer Paradogma and The Vile Conception, but for most people it will probably be a toss-up. However one chooses to look at it, Sedition is a worthy addition to the Hour of Penance discography and to your collection. Sedition is sure to be one of the best brutal death metal albums of 2012. It's fantastic to see Hour of Penance is still going strong.
Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com
It seems unreal that the mindblowingly brilliant "Paradogma" came out two years ago. That disc was one of those albums that if you were truly in the frame of mind for unrelenting brutality, you could easily listen to it tens times straight. Since that album has come out, the band has undergone a few lineup changes, both of which were notable enough to cause a small amount of worry with those in the know. For starters, longtime drummer and last remaining original member, Mauro Mercurio, left the band for whatever reasons, and vocalist Francesco Paoli left the band to focus his attention on current hot project of the moment, Fleshgod Apocalypse.
This new disc is so good, but it should come with a disclaimer about the number of times you'll need to listen to it to fully grasp it. The first listen immediately discounts any fears one might have had regarding if this disc would stack up to the monumental previous two releases, "Vile Conception" and the aforementioned "Paradogma". I mean, if you like your death metal to be a brutal sinister/semi-evil, brick-in-the-face a la Behemoth, older Hate Eternal, Harm, Zyklon, Immolation's last ep and the like, then you need to hear Hour of Penance if you haven't. By the time the third listen ends, you've begun to start grasping the actual melodies of the tracks, and by melodies I in no way mean this is weak stuff. Rather, I am referring to the ear-catching quality of the massive death riffs and blast beat interplay, not to mention the growled vocals over the top.
As you're making your way through listen number five, you begin to notice the "subtle" things, if anything here can be called subtle. You'll find yourself waiting for the bass drop in "The Cannibal Gods" on the sixth listen, and if you're a musician you'll begin to start picking apart guitarist Giulio Moschini's lead phrasing, which really is a very ear-pleasing mix of Erik Rutan and Nergal. You'll maybe notice how Paolo Pieri's voice is so powerful as he roars (and that is the only apt way to describe the way this variety of death growlers belt out their vocals) the title phrase to "Sedition Through Scorn" and how amazing the drum fill at 1:12 in "Deprave to Redeem" seems to transition the skank-beat into the next blast. After near 20 listens to this disc, I am still finding the occasional surprise, and I'm still nowhere close to being bored.
I figure another 10 listens and I'll dub this the greatest death metal record I have ever heard. Simply put, if you are a fan of brutality, you need to check this out.