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Nefarious - 84%

OzzyApu, September 1st, 2012

Gruff is this beast that Hypocrisy had created. The meaty death metal carried over from Penetralia was wrought with sinister undertones, but this sophomore pushes that trait to the front. Musically, it's the same beefy, ferocious riff package that Penetralia was, but with such an evil tone that it makes for a twisted album. Obsculum Obscenum, Hypocrisy's darkest release in one sense, does not let up one bit. Its sense of melody and brutality can be misunderstood, but it has all of its compositional properties in the right places.

With that cover art as an indicator, this album is not an easy sitting for those looking for delectable leads or harmonies. This album is as serious of a death metal album as it is a demented, grueling interpretation of this Swedish brand of music. Tägtgren's handling of the guitars is barbaric, with a flesh-ripping, crispy guitar tone and lots of desiccated riffs to creep and blitz. Their power is doom / death in flavor and they're supported by Hedlund's very clunky playing. The bass is fat, but you can also hear the rumble of it lingering under the riffs. They combine with Szoke's standard, battering performance of clamoring snares and pummeling double bass (not mechanical sounding anymore). There's nothing to hype except their compatibility with the crushing demeanor of this album.

Production is similar to the debut in clarity, but there's a sonic vibrancy tone-wise that creates a richer atmosphere for Obsculum Obscenum. Penetralia pulled this off perfectly with its title track, but here it's spread out more. From the eerie atmosphere to the brutality beneath it, there's this yearning for psychotic and nightmarish impulses. The one that percolates these implications effortlessly is Broberg. His vocals are primal growls not unlike what Tägtgren himself would do on the next album. They're clear and perverse in their delivery, as Broberg scatters screams, spits, and grunts as if acting out the album's underlying desires.

One personal gripe is that this album isn't as memorable as Penetralia. It's hard to come to terms with that, especially with such staples like the opener, "Inferior Devoties," "Infant Sacrifices", and the closer "Althotas". All of the songs on here feature the same jagged, primitive intensity without a hint of mercy (regardless of their tempos). It's an approach that causes the songs to blend together without compromising too much because of the consistency of the tracklist. It's certainly one thing that knocks it down, with another being the unnecessary Venom cover in the middle. With these problems aside, though, this album is a death metal indulgence that shouldn't be passed up.


Transphilvanian, March 23rd, 2010

Hypocrisy are a band now rather well known for their later modern melodic death metal approach, but as with many bands their classic albums seem to have been hidden in the fog of the more popular old school death metal bands. The bands second album stands among, if not on top, of many of the well renowned early 90's classics.

This album is essentially an amalgamation of styles found in the early 90's underground without forgetting songwriting and coherency. More than ever these days it seems that in order to "progress" or "branch out" you have to add a ukulele solo or simply play in a time signature nobody actually wants to hear so you can be technical. However sometimes it is more important to adapt an idea and actually concentrate on making it work. Here we have an effort that is part American death metal, part Swedish death metal with a dash of black metal but most importantly intelligently written and still as dark and vicious as the aforementioned styles.

Guitars are clear but chunky and play a combination of tremolo and technical death metal riffs similar to Deicide's early efforts. The guitar playing creates a dark atmosphere as well using excellent pacing, sometimes crushing strums resembling doom metal, at other times fast and technical in accordance with the blast beats and at other times speedy melodic tremolo lines producing a feeling akin to black metal but more likely an influence from the earlier Swedish death metal bands. Throughout the album these dark and foreboding riffs keep what feels like a chaotic and random maelstrom in check. The songwriting always brings back earlier themes but constantly keeps you on your toes, with some very notable epic structures normally ending with a newly developed motif, sometimes played by the guitars but at other points bringing in keyboards which adds more to the dark atmosphere.

Drumming on this release is not noticeably tight but has its own personality, you can really feel the urgency in the blast beats, which are not over done but used very effectively to highlight the more crushing moments. The drummer can slow down for the doomier sections, such as the track "Attachment to the Ancestor", as well as bound along with the more thrashy sections in the album, for example the title track. The drumming is integrated well and becomes part of the overall sound in contrast with a lot of drummers who feel it necessary to draw attention with pointless and flashy fills. The vocals are also a great aspect, providing low and hoarse growls combined with a high pitched shriek, similar to the vocal style Glen Benton used to use, complementing the feeling of darkness the rest of the instruments provide.

One downside to the album is the annoying addition of the cover song placed directly in the middle of the album. This is a certain pet peeve of mine because I feel a cover has to be very well selected and executed to fit in with the themes and atmosphere of an album to make it work. The track present here is the hugely influential classic, "Black Metal" by Venom and it is covered only acceptably well. This would not be a problem to me but the song itself, although its influence cannot be overstated, is rather rock based in song structure and has nothing to do with the twisting and turning songs on this album, nor the albums incredibly dark atmosphere. As I said the cover is not amazing but not awful, however essentially ruins the flow and atmosphere of the album for no real reason.

It seems to me this album is not appreciated as much as other early death metal albums because it does not fit into one scene. Similar to "The Red in the Sky is Ours" this band made simple but effective changes to their sound from the norm but this meant they did not really fit in with the technical and chaotic death metal from the U.S.A, nor did it fully fit in with the tremolo laden, punk influenced sound of bands from their own native land, Sweden. The album has all the dark atmosphere, epic songwriting and pummelling riffs a death metal fan needs, so all I can suggest is that if you enjoy the darker side of death metal and have no qualms about some epic and black metal themes creeping in and out then this is an album you need.

Darkness is my Art! - 90%

SoulCancer, November 25th, 2009

A year after the release of Penetralia, I saw another album with an equally evil album cover, depicting a demonic mutant Siamese figure hung on a cross, with an demonic, tortured look on both of his faces. This, of course, is the second Hypocrisy album.

When I placed the record on my stereo, nothing could really prepare me for what I was about to bear witness to: something darker and far more sinister came from my speakers: an ambient, evil-sounding introduction with choral vocals and a very dark organ intro… and then the metal kicked in and hit me like a ton of bricks.

There are two words to describe this: “heavy” and “dark”. A well-done riff leads into Masse screaming “Conquest is my ART!” There is a definite heavier and more brutal vibe going on here, with some interesting high / low vocal layering, adding to the overall progression of Osculum Obscenum from their previous outing.

Things continue in this manner, mixing up odd, uncomforting sounds along with pure death metal, occasionally adding what would seem to be foreign elements that should really not work along with the Swedish brutality here. Instead, these elements add a more bizarre and surprisingly functional change of scenery before you’re kicked in the head and left to wonder “WHY?!” It’s that good.

A couple of things that you’ll notice, especially after repeated listening, are that Masse Borberg’s vocals have evolved. He now has that low end death vocals down to perfection, but has also started to exhibit a new style, and one that wasn’t heard too often in the early years – that being the flawless mixing of high pitch vomit-like vocals into the mix with his standard vocals. This is truly stunning to hear in practice, especially on this album.

Peter’s leads and riffs have evolved as well, giving an overall feeling to the songs, as opposed to sometimes using them to fill empty song space. While Penetralia’s leads are definitely not in the weak or generic department, there is an undeniable marked improvement on Osculum Obscenum, where context of the song and feeling play into the leads on this outing.

I really can’t leave this review alone without mentioning their cover of Black Metal – the original classic done by Venom. If you can imagine a death metal band getting this song right, your imagination would lead you to this version of the song. It starts with a drill which, one would imagine, drilling into an unknown part of a human, complete with screaming. And then that song kicks in… if Venom were a tighter band, with brutal vocals and a bit faster, this would be what it would sound like. Can the cover replace the original? Not a chance. Is it a good cover? By all means!

Things also take a turn for the different during Exclamation of a Necrofag, which nearly has a death metal / punk crossover style going for it. And as odd as this might sound, it’s worth its weight in the power of its assault on the senses.

The rest of the album is laid out following the same pattern of the non-experimental songs, with Inferior Devoties and Infant Sacrifices keeping the album going with great leads, good song structures, and levels of brutality that would make some bands take notes. The additional atmospheric keyboards, choirs, extra effects, hints of doom and leads keep things interesting.

Attachment to the Ancestors tends to have Peter all over it again, but this time, the whole band has contributed to the overall song. The first minute and fifteen seconds seem to be akin to a funeral dirge, with whispers instead of vocals adding to a creepy vibe that is an introduction to what you are about to witness. After that 1:15 mark, we go into something a tad bit different for Hypocrisy: a slow, doom-like slab, almost like a slow beating at the hands of the masters. They have mastered this art, as evidenced here. The song doesn’t pick up until the 3 minute, 50 second mark, and it doesn’t go into your usual blasting, blistering break-neck speed death metal, but settles into a mid-paced bludgeoning, before slowing down again until the end.

Which leads us to the end song, Althotas, and this song sums up perfectly what your ears have heard in the past thirty-seven minutes and thirty-two seconds. The song dies out in an amazing way that has to be heard for yourself, but I can tell you that it leaves the song to sound like it dies a slow, meaningless death.

I recommend this one whole-heartedly, and if you are into old-school death metal and looking for something a bit unconventional, wrap your head around this aural assault and enjoy the ride!

Hypocrisy - Osculum Obscenum - 95%

Noctir, September 6th, 2008

Over a decade ago, my best friend and I had a Friday night ritual that included meeting up and sharing our latest musical acquisitions. Back then, this was one of the main ways I got into new music (along with college radio and magazines). One gloomy Autumn night, he brought over "Osculum Obscenum", the second full-length album from Swedish Death Metal band Hypocrisy. I had heard plenty of Death Metal over the years, but this was beyond all of that; far more evil and far more epic.

"Pleasure of Molestation" begins with a horror intro that really sets the mood for what is to come. It starts out quietly, and one gets the feeling of being pulled into a nightmare. Then, as the song gets going, the sound is not entirely similar to other Swedish Death Metal bands. The music is filled with dark energy and the vocals are extremely rough (almost as if Masse was gargling gravel) and filled with hate. There are many variations with the vocals, keeping things interesting. Similarly, the song includes various tempos. One can hear that it is Swedish, but the influences from American Death Metal, such as Deicide, are apparent as well. However, they quickly show that they are far superior to those who have influenced them.

"Exclamation of a Necrofag" keeps everything going. The bass seems to stand out on this particular song. Other than the heavy sound, this feels a lot like a Black Metal album. This may belong next to Necrophobic's "The Nocturnal Silence" as one of the earliest mixtures of the two. As the song progresses, there is a very slow part, reminiscent of "Where No Life Dwells" by Unleashed or "Nothing But Death Remains" by Edge of Sanity. This, combined with Peter's eerie guitar solo makes for a sinister atmosphere.

"Osculum Obscenum" begins with some odd effects and a ghastly moaning. The song is very slow and features layered vocals, giving a demonic feel (much like the first Deicide album). Never keeping to one tempo for too long, the song speeds up, quickly. The song is filled with brillian Black Metal riffs, even if they are sometimes hard to focus on, due to the crushing drums.

By the time "Necronomicon" begins, the listener should really have a keen grasp on what this album is all about. Yet there are still surprises to be found and each song has its own identity. Again, one may notice that Masse's vocals are rough, even for Death Metal. His style is unmistakable and he does well not to sound like every other vocalist out there.

Next up is a crushing cover version of Venom's "Black Metal," which fits in perfectly with the rest of the Black/Death Metal that is featured here. Obviously, this is much heavier than the original.

Abruptly, "Inferior Devoties" starts up and continues the Satanic Death Metal onslaught. Later in the song there is a good Black Metal riff that doesn't quite get time to breathe, but it makes no difference as the pace slows down and an epic feeling is created with the slow riffs and chanting. However, this does not last long and the song marches forward, seeing the return of the aforementioned riff.

"Infant Sacrifices" is filled with evil, blasphemy and hate. This is what Death Metal should sound like. This song again displays Peter Tägtgren's ability to utilize epic riffs.

And now we come to the most epic song on the whole album, "Attachment To the Ancestor." Slow, doomy riffs fill the listener with a ssense of dread and impending doom. The low, whispering voices and accountic guitar add an eeriness. It becomes apparent that Hypocrisy really shine through during the slower moments, and this is the slowest song on the album. That is not to say that there is no variance in tempo. The song does, indeed, speed up for a bit. Everything is perfectly timed and structured to create the darkest feeling possible. This song is definitely one of the highlights of an album filled with brilliance.

"Althotas" is a great song to close the album with. This one song features Black, Death and Thrash riffs. There seems to be a little added desperation to the vocals and the melodies definitely give the feeling that this is the last assault before the end. The song then slows way down, with a fast tremolo melody playing along with the keyboard outro. Everything continues to slow down to an absolute crawl until there's nothing left but the brief horrific sounds that began the album. Simply one of the best endings to an album, period.

This album is evil and dark Black/Death Metal the way it should be. When compared to other Death Metal albums of the same period, this absolutely kills nearly everything. Eerie guitar work, Hellish screams, epic riffs... This is a classic and stands out as being above and beyond the majority of Hypocrisy's other works. This is the most solid and consistent album that they ever recorded. Buy this or kill yourself.

Pure evil - 100%

MutatisMutandis, January 3rd, 2006

It’s a rare holiday when I actually pick up a death or black metal album I truly enjoy. Formulaically, I pick out two or three mp3s, listen to them religiously depending on wether they suit my pallet or not, then, also dependent on reaction one, pick up the earliest material I can find of theirs. As you can see, I have this down to a complete science. Why? Because I’m very, very stingy when it comes to purchasing albums that are over 10 dollars. That’s right, I’m a cheap asshole who does more research than a perky Harvard girl when it comes to subjects as irrelevant to my actual life chords as this.
Hypocrisy wasn’t one of those bands, though. I just had a whim to pick up their second album of three releases, Osculum Obscenum. After about 5 or 6 listens, I wiped off the drool, decided the bondage outfit I was wearing was not necessary for me to feel the full force of the punishment this album inflicts, and finally realized what people meant when they said Hypocrisy was one of the most extreme acts in all of metal.
Hypocrisy play an intense combination of harsh dark death metal and hate-filled, sometimes slightly melody laced black metal. The songs have a somewhat less epic feel than most of the albums I hold in this high regard, but flow so perfectly it’s difficult to believe they play such a standard, stale, genre. There are three factors aside the great riffing and natural flow that really make me giddy when listening to this, though. For one, the bass work is incredible. A fretless bass is at play here, and god damn, this guy know how to play. The best part about it is how audible it is at all times, and how it carries the music on par with the two guitarists.
The part two of my reasoning goes with the tastefully reserved keyboarding sprinkled throughout the album. True, they are rare, but they set a mood difficult for me to describe... it’s kind of like a ‘we rape goth kids’ or ‘we’re so evil it’s grimy’ statement. Any time they appear, it sounds like pure and utter blasphemy, and that’s a spicy meatball.
The third and possibly most ear catching factor is the absolutely crushing vocals of Masse Bromberg. You probably recognize him from Dark Funeral, which I’ve never really paid attention to due to their overall lack of will to push the envelope, but either way, he beats the hell out 90 percent of death metal vocalists like the red headed step children they are. Never have I heard such ridiculously evil growls and screeches that come across so coherently and bitingly he may as well be cussing like a sailor with a vice on his genitals. Just imagine Satan was narrating Revelations. That’s pretty much how he sounds.
Oh wait... the drums. Hard to believe I hadn’t brought that up earlier. Well, what’s to say? They’re excellent as everything else on this album is. Fast, technical, and powerful as the bejeezus. The production here is just as amped up and skull crushing as the vocals, and that’s a comparison I can’t make all too often. There are no bad songs on here, and repetitive listens have become mandatory for me in my aural diet. There’s even a cover of Venom’s infamous Black Metal, which is even better than when the pioneers settled it in the early 80's.
Overall, this is an absolute must have for any fan of the genre. I hold this in incredibly high regard, and it’s easily on my top ten list with My Dying Bride’s Turn Loose The Swans and Aeternus’ ...And So The Night Became. There's not one second of boredom to be found. I don’t know what the guys are up to these days, but I may as well check that out too... 10/10.