1. Intro 2. Warpath 3. Scrutinized 4. Fearless 5. Craving for Another Killing 6. Let the Knife Do the Talking 7. A Thousand Lies 8. Incised Before Iíve Ceased 9. Blooddrenched 10. Compulsive Psychosis 11. Living to Die
Just in time for the release of our first issue of Past, Present, Future spotlighting the best damn death metal band in Sweden, Hypocrisy, comes my review for the new album "Virus". Those of you still a bit burdened by the band's last few outings will find resolution here, a saving grace in the form of eleven do-or-die tracks that catapult the band and their formula back to the forefront of the genre's star-studded leaders. This time around Tagtgren and company make up a bit of lost ground, really focused and inventive in their recapture of the abandoned throne. After disappointing releases in "Into The Abyss", "Catch 22" (Peter's personal favorite), and the overly familiar "The Arrival", Hypocrisy are back in the saddle with a fresh outlook and a few new weapons pulled from the armory reserve.
This 2005 version of Hypocrisy is entirely a different creature from the outside looking in. The band's long-time drummer Lars Szoke left after the band's last record, replaced by Tagtgren's long-time idol, former Grimfist/Immortal skinsman Reidar Horghagen. Along with the change behind the kit comes an additional guitarist in Andreas Holma, making this version of the group a four-piece for the first time in over ten years. I am very fond of the band's prior works as a dynamic four-piece and with "Virus" those elements come together again, turning something glorious and fabulous into a work of astonishment and delight. "Virus" may be this band's most well rounded effort to date, turning to gold the ventures of an innovative pioneer looking dead red at a career crossroads.
This record moves with as much velocity as "Into The Abyss", but still manages to absorb the same atmosphere and vibe from the band's most successful albums, "The Final Chapter" and "Abducted". "Virus" is filled with the most intense, hate filled fury found on a record today, but while clocking by at a million miles an hour it manages to adapt and morph into a more calculated, thought provoking affair. With the added dimension of a second guitarist, the group now gets to explore their melody and mood, something that Tagtgren has always managed to do in the past with his playing and technique, but with an added hand it allows for a much more dramatic effect. The backing rhythms through most of the material is completely soaked with atmosphere and melodic structures, building to the most violent displays of power while slowly stewing in the blackest cauldron.
With supersonic cuts like "Blooddrenched" and "Let The Knife Do The Talking", past material like "Killing Art" and "Buried" come to mind, the effective speed and then more speed formula is the perfect antidote for the modern grooves our metal society has plagued us with. Slower, deeper passages exist with "Fearless" and "A Thousand Lies", cuts that seem to absorb the same sort of texture and simplicity found on the group's self-titled record, with "Fearless" a bit like "The Arrival" highlight "Slave To The Parasites". Strong opener "Warpath" is probably my favorite selection, a mind warp that builds on some black metal elements before totally reproducing into a thrashing holocaust. New drummer Horgh is a very different musician when compared to former drummer Lars Szoke, with Horgh's fills and patterns of a more extreme nature. Really this album is filled with off the wall things, from spoken passages on "Living To Die" to the small neo-classical section in "Incised Before I've Ceased". The album's fastest track is "Craving For Another Killing", a blistering, scorching rampage that borrows from the same intensity as the group's first two records.
I hate to continue referencing past songs and selections but that is really what this band has always been built on, a constant evolution on past works. It doesn't work for some bands but for Hypocrisy it is a winning formula. Their reflections of the past are crucial in their future developments, much like the building of a skyscraper rests on the brick and mortar rows below it. This Swedish act has broken down every barrier on their quest for death metal domination, and at this point in time with this much competition, all of the barriers lie in the rearview.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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