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Well, this is a classic opus to me. It is also, in my opinion, the best one Hypnos ever did! I had a big crush on it right away when I got it (can’t even remember when that was - probably some time between 2000 and 2002, about when it came out) and I kept listening to it regularly since then, despite the other hundreds of (great) death metal albums I have. The reason for this is that “In Blood We Trust” unites various successful elements of death metal.
Anyone familiar with that genre will immediately recognize that the production is good; but by good, I do not mean "clean", "overproduced", "artificial" or whatnot. This is death metal we’re talking about! The guitar is sharp and hoarse, the vocals are guttural and/or screamed, the bass is distorted, and the drums have a very strong impact and presence; and yet, with all of the above together you can easily distinguish all the instruments without making much of an effort.
The reason the album is so catchy does not only come from the sound, but also from the feeling it gives you. Every time I listen to it I find myself headbanging for half an hour (I actually have a hard time writing this since I’m listening to it!). The blast parts are well balanced with ripping mid-tempo riffs so you never get tired or bored, and the blasts always come back before the speed goes away. Even the slow composition (called 'Lovesong' - don’t these metalheads have humour?) doesn’t let you take a single breath or a sip of beer.
When the blasting is most prominent, there is always good variation in the guitarwark, the bass and the drums, so it never gets too linear. There is even a bit of keyboards in one song. When that's the case, lead melodies are dark and foreboding.
Guitar solos are not hyper-technical, but are usually catchy and varied enough so it's not a chore to listen to them over and over. The breaks are always well used and are not here to compensate for lack of songwriting skills.
Here I have to underline another strength of this album: the vocal lines. They are incredibly effective! Not to mention that the backing vocalist makes an outstanding duo with the main singer, whether it be moaning or harsh vocals. It always puts you in the mood to scream along to the songs.
On the whole, the atmosphere is very well taken care of. You can just feel that it's there, whether you pay attention to it or not. The result is indeed a varied yet coherent album. Effectiveness is always preferred to complexity. During solos, the other instrumental parts are simple and add to the global eerie ambiance. Ambiance maintained during the “inbetweens” with some movie type samples, following the tone of the horrific medieval carving of the cover. Once again, no abuse here, these interludes come out one out of two songs, and each last about twenty seconds, except for the intro, the middle one and the outro which are about a minute..
The lyrics deal with war, darkness and blasphemy (which will also all transpire through the music); if you’re careful enough you’ll catch the social critic behind the uncompromising position.
To conclude, I will say that this is an album from the old kitchen using an old recipe, just enough ingredients, and putting aside useless decoration. You're in for a hell of a tasty treat! And don’t misunderstand my phrase, although this album is not revolutionary, it is NOT a compilation of riffs you've heard a thousand times before; it is original for not being redundant. Even throughout the album, each song has its own feeling and particularities.
So if you’re looking for a must-have, Swedeath-inspired album, then this just might be what you need.