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Allright, here I go with my first review on this site. Nice meeting y'all and stuff...
Now, about Hypocrisy's latest output.
Let me first say that I am a huge Hypocrisy fan, and I've followed and loved their music through most of their career. That statement, along with the rating I gave to this album, along with the hype that goes around the record might seem contradictory to the reader. Believe me, it isn't. It isn't a case of failed super-high expectations, either. I don't expect Hypocrisy to make an album as good as Abducted or The Fourth Dimension, and I certainly don't expect them to re-play their Penetralia-era music, as they can do neither of those things. I just expect them to put out a decent record that contains good and imaginative songwriting. Hell, they can play pop music for all I care, as long as they do JUST that.
Needless to say, I don't think they've done that here. My case is that this is a marginally mediocre record that very few people will give repeated listens over the years, and not even the dozens that have written hyped-up reviews for it over the past few months. That's what will happen, and it'll happen for good reason.
First of all, the songwriting. The disc suffers the same fate as a large number of so-called "comeback" albums. The band gets the sound, the style, the aggression down, but after a long career of writing and playing music, they just... don't care as much anymore. They come in the studio, play the first thing that comes to mind that resembles some of their early work, and that's that. Sorry folks, I've listened to metal music all my life, and that's just not good enough.
The songs on this album are unimaginative, unmemorable, and completely uninteresting. Read the good reviews written for this album. Almost all of them praise the aggression, the loudness, the speed... all of which are often good, but massively overemphasized aspects of metal music. But come on, who cares how they play those songs if the songs themselves aren't even remotely good? If I record a loud and fast album that plays tremolo D-flat from start to finish, who will listen to that? Isn't there supposed to be more to good music? (yes there is). Are we all turning into drones that eat-up anything that blasts fast and loud? (yes, we are).
The second (and bigger) problem is the production and mastering: It's TOO LOUD. Albums have been mastered louder and louder over the years, but this must be one of loudest productions ever put to disc, even compared to the metal releases of the past few years (at hindsight, Virus suffered from the same problem as well). This loudness comes with a massive cost: Everything is massively distorted, there's no definition, all instruments have been mushed into a jointly beating static, drums have no kick whatsoever, and your ears will hurt along with a headache if you turn up the volume for an extended period of time (which doesn't happen even with the most brutal but well-produced albums). If this is what the metal world demands by valuing "loudness" to such an extent, then they are getting exactly what they deserve: An ear-hurting mushiness of non-music.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to shelf this one and give The Fourth Dimension another spin.