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Wrath of Rome - 78%

Tofumanchu, January 29th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Xtreem Music

These Roman speed freaks have the blood of Nile running ardently through their veins. The influence is so strong and proud that I suspect the track Spires was named in tribute to the former Nile frontman. Rather than being outright clones, however, there is enough aggressive originality to make this a refreshing listen (and certainly the poetic lyrics are very much their own).

On the surface the components are effective rather than stunning; the vocals, the leads, the rhythms and the general sound. Scratch the surface and you realise how excellent the song arrangements are. There is a mature ebb and flow to the tracks that embodies other influences and techniques whilst sounding completely sincere to the listener. Like a mad dog on a slack leash, there is a natural impulsiveness to the way the music dynamically changes tempo, breaks down and is restored. Riffs are repeated with subtle variations and alterations to the harmony.

The band understand the full breadth of Nile's essence, with a healthy dose of early Hate Eternal at full speed and the 'Vile' to 'Bloodthirst' era of Cannibal Corpse during the mid-paced, misshapen parts. There are also undercurrents of classic evil black metal harmonies (as in Dawn of Cerberus) and early Malevolent Creation (the outro to N.E.M.A. for example). It is also satisfying to hear catchy Iniquity-style detuned riffing in Soul Addicted (a song from 2000) and Blood Tribute for further crunchy mid-paced solidity and crisp staccato passages.

I look forward to hearing the second full length release and hope that the drums and guitars will be produced with a little more density whilst keeping the clarity similar. More importantly, Hour of Penance should develop a more distinguishable personality, building on their sturdy foundation of song-writing skills.

[originally written for Diabolical Conquest webzine]