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Hour of Penance has raised the stakes on this one. This album should present a challenge to any death metal band. Who dares to try and top this magnificent work, by a magnificent band? After nearly two and a half years since the release of this album, I have yet to hear a better attempt in the death metal scene. That's either saying something about the genre, or the band. I'd hate to say that death metal has become too watered down, but Hour of Penance gives me hope and we can clearly see the results of a finely tuned machine in The Vile Conception.
On an instrumental basis, notes are executed in a concise and direct fashion. Giulio Moschini has displayed some serious chops on this release, and not only is his riffing somewhat catchy but it never fails to intrigue. I don't think I was bored for a moment during the time I spent listening to this album for the first time, and the numerous times proceeding. The man simply has a sheer knack for playing his instrument with a driving force which can be notably heard on tracks like Misconception, Liturgy of Deceivers, The Holy Betrayal, Slavery in a Deaf Decay, and From Hate to Suffering. I'm really looking forward to hearing what this guy does in their upcoming album.
Now onto the bass in this album, which is my solitary criticism. I have to say that coming from such a high caliber band, I truly expected more presence of bass. This was my only disappointment, as you can rarely make out the bass notes from the pummel of the drums combined with the ferocity of the guitar tracks. This is most definitely something that should be corrected during the procession of their next album.
To say that Hour of Penance has an atypical death metal drummer would be an understatement. This is some of the best drumming I've ever heard, and though they do make use of triggers, it is done in such a tasteful fashion that it's easy enough to forgive. I can't begin to express how impressed I was by Mauro's talent on the kit. His fills are timed perfectly, his use of double bass is killer and fortifies the power behind the album, and he's a perfect fit for the band. Stand-out tracks include Misconception, Hideously Conceived, Drowned in the Abyss of Ignorance, Slavery in a Deaf Decay, The Holy Betrayal, and Absence of Truth.
Last, but certainly not least effective, are the vocals on this release. Francesco seriously knows what he's doing. Sure, Alex "Necrotorture" Manco was decent on Pageantry for Martyrs, but I have a hard time matching his skills par with Francesco. Ultimately it comes down to his ability to synchronize the power of his voice inflection with the rhythm of the guitar and drums. Combining these factors, especially in the correct manner, has proved the highest point of interest for me as the listener and is probably the album's most stressed attribute.
I honestly think that the designated title describes this album perfectly. With the exception of an imbalance of bass, this is death metal done right.
I am most pleased with Hour of Penance's new album 'The Vile Conception". The band displays a very impressive amount of talent through the extreme brutality of their music. The Vile Conception retains a very fast pace, plenty of diversity, and is most heavy, all the while remaining strong, clear, and very audible throughout the entire album. The production of this album is incredible! It's a very amazing and impressive piece of work being that it's so brutal and complex, yet stunningly audible and followable.
What really gets to me about the album though is that I couldn't have asked for a finer example of death metal. The Vile Conception really raises the bar! I've heard only few other albums that have brought me such satisfaction as this one (included are Nile's "Annihilation of the Wicked", & Myrkskog's "Superior Massacre").
As said in a previous review, I would have to agree that the only two things I can criticize are the vocals, and the length. I would have loved for the album to have been longer, but the vocals have grown on me. If you love real, balls-to-the-wall death metal you will not be disappointed with this cd!
'The Holy Betrayal'
Early 2008 has been a good period for death metal, seeing new releases from four of my favourite death metal bands: Monolith Deathcult's "Triumvirate", Hate Eternal's "Fury and Flames", Deicide's "Till Death Do Us Part"... and this one, The Vile Conception by Hour of Penance. All of them are good albums, but for me The Vile Conception clearly stands as the best of the four.
The first two albums by Hour of Penance are both very good brutal death metal albums, featuring:
- Strong, guttural growling vocals (the kind I expect in death).
- Heavy and aggressive guitar riffing, alternating between grinding destruction and catchy, air-guitarable hooks.
- Lots of brutality and blastbeats, but also plenty of diversity and mid- to slow-tempo parts.
- Clear and heavy production with plenty of power and with all instruments audible.
The Vile Conception offers all this and more. In addition to retaining all the elements that make the first two albums good, The Vile Conception also shows advances in key areas:
- The vocal rhythms on the earlier albums tended to be somewhat strange, with awkward pauses, being overall un-catchy. On The Vile Conception, the vocal lines are not only more rhythmic and easier to follow, but also faster and longer, adding a whole new layer of intensity and brutality to the album. (This doesn't sound so impressive when described in words, but it makes a great difference when you hear it.)
- The earlier albums both had several strong songs, but were also plagued by a number of more mediocre songs. The Vile Conception is more consistent, with every song being very worthy of listening.
The lyrics are of the anti-Christian variety. Not my favourite topic, but quite well written (certainly better than the lyrics that bands like Deicide spew out). Better than the gore/torture-based lyrics prevalent on Pageantry for Martyrs. I kind of miss the cryptic horror lyrics on some songs on Disturbance, tho. My favourite lyric on the album is Hideously Conceived, which is a morbid and gruesome alternate interpretation of the myth of the Virgin Mary and her immaculate conception.
I have only two points of criticism:
- The production is mostly very good, but I don't entirely like the way they recorded the vocals. They are too rich in the mid-range frequencies where I would have preferred a more bassy sound.
- The length is only 36 minutes. Very standard for the brutal death genre, but I would have preferred more.
In conclusion, The Vile Conception is an excellent album. The best so far by Hour of Penance and the best death metal album I have seen here in early 2008. I hope Hour of Penance will continue the growth they've shown themselves capable of on this album.
Highlights include Misconception and Hideously Conceived.
Italy's HOUR OF PENANCE bring one of the most neckwrecking albums in death metal with their third full-length "The Vile Conception". From the opening "Misconception" they blast you through a journey that could take a raging elephant and throw it miles away.
A thing that has to be mentioned is the music. The instruments are handled in a way that would make a lot of great musicians jealous. The drums are probably the instrument that stands out the most. It's blasting beyond blasting. Since I am a drummer I feel the jealousy growing in me as I am not that good. Maybe one day...
The music is pretty straight-forward (meaning you can headbang to it almost all the time) wich makes the album pretty easy to get into even after just a few listens.
The vocals performed are really impressive and are a huge improvement since the "Pageantry For Martyrs" album who's vocals were pretty flat.
The most impressive songs on this album are the opener "Misconception", "Hideously Conceived", "The Holy Betrayal" and the album closer "Hierarchy Of The Fools".
Over all "The Vile Conception" are an excellent performed death metal album and it easily reaches the top ranks on my list of death metal albums!