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Medieval cobbles once trod by golems - 94%

joncheetham88, February 11th, 2013

Hypnos are an unbelievably crushing Czech death metal band. The kind of massively satisfying death metal I, for some reason, didn't really expect to find upon moving hither, my expectations already coloured by Maniac Butcher and Master's Hammer and weird fucko jazzy grind shite. Having unfettered a series of ball-bouncingly good albums during the '90s and '00s the band have returned from hiatus/ death to reign once again. Instrumental supremacy and nothing less than fantastic songwriting to put the likes of neighbouring Polish titans somewhat to shame. These guys deserve to be revered alongside and probably above the likes of Behemoth and Hate. Why? I'll tell you for why.

Typical of their discography and probably their best yet along with The Revenge Ride, Heretic Commando is bristling with compact, world-class death metal. It's technical without being for a second wanky, old school with a clear-as-hell heavy production, melodic and unforgettable without resorting to harmonized riffs, and has a combination of ripping speed and accomplished atmosphere. It slays, pure and simple.

Exhibit fucken' A. The integration of grandiose and sublime leads with punishing drum tattoos for the first part of 'Nailed To The Golden Throne' is the kind of intro that doesn't come along often. The "main" song itself is the sort of obliterating, blasting death metal carnage I get to enjoy all too rarely. Like Vomitory and Behemoth and Lost Soul and Incantation all trying to outdo each other. But still very much Hypnos' own thang. This bone-splintering assault continues un-Czeched (I've seen way too many crap "suvenyry" shop slogans since being here) throughout the album, with the incredibly technical (yet still very much death metal) drum performance of the octopus known as Petr. This guy really helps turn the record and the band itself and, let me tell you, their live shows, into an utter powerhouse. Competing for attention with this ferocious display of power is the downright classy riffing of Igor and Vlasa, who whip up a storm of highly memorable lines. 'Versus The Void' is a good example - the verses sound like a chainsaw being manipulated by IG88 in a hurry, all serrated, hurtling chugs and manic tremolo-picked precision. Again, unforgettable.

Nowhere is the excellent songwriting better shown than in the band's juxtaposition (it really is a horrible word) of atmospherically pounding slower motifs and hysterical, racing blasts. Look at the construction of 'Inverted/ Chasing The Apostles' and the killer 'Burning Again/ Hymn Of Eternal Fire' - or listen to it, whatever, fuck you - this is what I'm talking about there. They just know how to write really catchy shit. To return to my earlier comparative admonishment of Behemoth, the wailing leads of 'Burning Again' are the zenith of the sort of ear-worm epic material the Polish controversy-stirrers have tried to nail with hit pop songs like 'At The Left Hand Ov God' and 'Ov Fire and the Void'. Arse-kicking songs, but not quite this arse-kicking. Great recipe, but these boiz are quite comfortable with giving you a little extra incentive to worship as well. There's just enough of a nihilistic wrath in the tremolo sections to give it a blackened heart. It's all kept watertight mind. And even when just getting down with some dirty grooving in a song like 'Cholera/ Mor', Hypnos don't fail to keep your attention pinned.

I mentioned the great sound above. The guitar tone is a great buzzing scythe, all the edge familiar to US and Eastern bloc death metal bands with the weight and fur of the Swedes. And 'Decadence/ Art of Modern Misery' show off the sublime moodiness that peppers and contextualises the album's hungry death metal. Bruno is an accomplished vocalist, spitting out bloodthirsty growls and some raging almost blackened rasps on tracks like 'Versus The Void' (to be honest it would probably click with many a black metal adept), and even a few Moonspell-like whispers on the slower 'In Love With Death'. You can hear everything that's going on with the drums with very little straining, and the clean guitars and bass rhythms shine through easily. It's all there for you. Die on your knees.

Very much a drooling fanboy fuckface review here, but when it's a band that's as underrated and underappreciated as these dogma-hating geniuses, I can get away with it. But this isn't just getting a salivating review for its unexpectedness. No. If I were to stitch up a battle jacket for killer blasting death metal bands, it would be Torture Division, Vomitory, Lost Soul and these guys, and er, some others. Put it that way. One of the best discoveries in a long while. Fans of bands I've mentioned, fans of blast beats, lovers of brutality and blasphemy, haters of boredom and mediocrity, this is your stop.

Also, the album sleeve features the band members holding glasses of wine, and cats. Awesome.