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I’ve been listening to Hypocrisy since they released “Abducted” back in 1996 and I must say I was one of the few who never thought they were betraying their fans by playing songs that combined more and more melodic elements into them. I do understand, however, that anyone who started his or her journey through this band’s musical realm with any of the two first releases might have felt it a bit strange as they evolved throughout the 1990s. The thing is, they did release an album or two that had their share of ballad-like tunes, maybe a bit over the desired balance between heavy and melodic which make the Hypocrisy sound so unique. Beyond all that, there is this album.
When I first heard it, I was expecting something in the vein of the self-titled album, or even in the vein of “The Arrival” – a couple heavy songs, very well structured, with crunchy riffs and easily reminded choruses, complemented with slower songs that will allow you to hum along while recovering your breath, before some mild to serious had banger comes along. Yes, I confess that is what I was expecting.
But… is that what I got when I heard this album? Hell, no! From the very opening lines of “Valley of the Damned” to the fading notes of “The Sinner” (for the who don’t have the bonus track, then it is “Sky is falling down”) this whole album brings an astonishing assault on one’s ears, relentless aggression impregnated with awesome melody, very heavy, very fast-forward, very brutal sounding. Bear with me, it is not a brutal death metal album, no way. It is still a melodic death metal work, but one that pushes the notion of “melodic” forward. There are no easy going tracks here, every single track is a full death metal charge. And yet, amazingly enough, Peter and company manage to keep a superb sense of melody attached to the very fabric of each song. The album that best compares to this in terms of structure should be “Into the abyss”. Nevertheless this album doesn’t have mellow themes such as “Deathrow”.
The one song that has a slowed down tempo is “The Quest” and it is still a pretty heavy song, double bass drums and all, with Peter screaming his lungs out, only slower. The rest of the album? Very heavy, very intense, probably one of the heaviest melodic death metal albums ever.
I should also state that Horgh adds a lot to this album with his drumming, especially the way he uses the double bass drumming – very methodic, yet very balanced and (yes, I’m using the word again) heavy.
Mikael does a terrific job; sometimes you can hear his bass as though it were a second guitar. Awesome!
Peter is flawless throughout the entire album: spectacular riffs, over the top solos, and a very strong and versatile voice. Probably the best Hypocrisy studio album to this day.