Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hour of Penance (Italy) has a new album: Regicide (Prosthetic Records)

Hour of Penance: “Regicide” (Prosthetic Records)
I sometimes get the impression that whenever a metal band is the object of praise, some attitudes often react with cynicism because some listeners really do perceive themselves as standing apart from what they reject (mainstream music culture, including metal, for example), as a means to express a mark of uniqueness or a contrarian attitude. Case in point, dismissive views have labeled Hour of Penance a blasting one-trick pony or a Behemoth clone. Sometimes, favorable reviews highlight the speed, that it is fast, intense, so on and so forth, which can also be a polite way of saying that it is an ok band with somewhat repetitive songs. In other words, “Oh, no, here we go again, another death metal band that I don’t like.”
My own experience listening to this album was interesting from the beginning: the blasting “technical/brutal death metal” of Hour of Penance made the sense on the first listen. Frequently, this style takes several listens before I feel like I comprehend the proceedings. I could not possibly name all the reasons why Hour of Penance makes sense so quickly, but I submit that there are at least three main reasons why.
First, the drumming caught my attention, in part, because it’s easy for a listener to connect with a beat. Metal with fast drumming is fun and I can never get enough of it. Nevertheless, Hour of Penance is certainly not the “fastest” ever, although it is assuredly a blasting album from start to finish. As I already knew what to expect in terms of speed, what caught my attention was not the blasting. It’s something else that the drummer is doing. For lack of better or more precise terminology, I will say: in between or despite the blasting, there is something curious going on; it’s a whole series of beats, of patterns that sneak in the brief spaces arising at this warp-speed drumming; in the interstices of the frenzy, there are lots of small details that somehow add up to give the album a creative, a distinctive face from other “technical/brutal” blasting albums.
Second, the guitar work is a balance between tendonitis-inducing wizardry and memorable hooks, all done at a blasting pace, of course. I like the fact that I can hear the riffs and that it is not simply chugging away with play-on riffs. The guitar work is an attractive proposition for the listener wanting to hear the guitar, while still hoping for technical/fast playing. It does not go totally over your head, but it is undoubtedly on the shredding side of death metal; the equilibrium between speed, control, chaos, absurd and even a bit of melody works well for the band.
Finally, I feel that the elements—the drumming, guitars and the growling—make up complete songs, compositions that the willing listener can consolidate in her or his mind with the feeling that the music may be talented or fast or extreme, but at bottom, it’s a fun listen. It seems to me that these compositions have the key components that the listener partial to “modern/extreme death metal” will approve in a big way, as there is here much to enjoy.
May 13th is the day for this album.
www.hourofpenance.net www.facebook.com/hourofpenance
1. Through the Triumphal Arch 00:55
2. Reforging the Crowns 03:34
3. Desecrated Souls 03:45
4. Resurgence of the Empire 04:48
5. Spears of Sacred Doom 03:26
6. Sealed into Ecstasy 03:50
7. Redeemer of Atrocity 04:06
8. Regicide 04:30
9. The Sun Worship 03:54
10. The Seas of Light 04:56
11. Theogony 04:02

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