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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Hypocrisy

Into The Abyss

Review by Mike Korn

In 1992, a virtually unknown Swedish death metal band named "Hypocrisy" debuted with their initial effort, "Penetralia". It was a serviceable, if not especially outstanding, record from another in a seeming flood of Swedish bands hoping to cash in on the success of Entombed and Dismember. At that time, no one could have guessed that Hypocrisy would evolve into the premiere death metal band of our time. Their newest disc, "Into the Abyss", confirms that this band has surpassed almost all others when it comes to mixing all-out brutality with superb musicianship and excellent sound quality. The group has long ago passed by their mentors Entombed and Dismember and now stand on the brink of mainstream success. Ironically, "Into the Abyss" seems to find them reaching back to the past to create their most intense disc since their second, "Osculum Obscenum". Since their 3rd record "Fourth Dimension", Hypocrisy, under the leadership of guitarist/vocalist Peter Tagtgren, has tried to advance death metal by incorporating new musical and lyrical influences. Their songs slowed down and added almost psychedelic elements that conjured a death metal version of Pink Floyd in spots. Their lyrics switched from gore and Satanism to in-depth examinations of UFO's, conspiracy theories, cloning and psychic phenomena. These influences reached their apex with the self-titled "Hypocrisy", which bordered on dullness with too much emphasis on melodic weirdness and not enough of the raw meat death metal fans crave. "Into the Abyss" redresses that situation completely. This is the fastest, most brutal record since "Osculum", yet it does not abandon the experimental nature of the more recent material. Not to mention, it is better written and the sound quality is leaps and bounds beyond the early Hypocrisy material. The fast stuff is vicious but coherent while the slower stuff is more compact and less "gothic" than before. Tagtgren's vocals, which were virtually normal on "Hypocrisy", are almost completely bestial here. The only thing I don't like about them is that there seems to be too much electronic processing on them, leading to a sterile sound. Along with "The Final Chapter", this is the finest record of Hypocrisy's career. Hard to believe that the band that put out "Penetralia" has reached this plateau!

The lineup on this disc is Peter Tagtren, 7-string guitar, lead vocals and keyboards; Lars Szoke, drums; and Michael Hedlund, bass. Hypocrisy fans take note this is a killer album of pure death metal, with enough melody and atmosphere to keep it from being boring. Hypocrisy has reinvented itself yet again, and they are now on the pinnacle of their profession!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Legions Descend
This scorching blast of a song sounds like it rode up right out of hell. A furious burst of speedy death, this announces Hypocrisy is back to its brutal best. Peter's vocals are scraped from somewhere deep below. There's a great slower mosh part in the middle and plenty of noisy guitar strangulations. Let the slaughter begin! 
Blinded
Well, guess what? Instead of immediately doing a slower, atmospheric track, as has been their custom the last several records, this one hardly slows down at all from "Legions Descend". Breakneck speed is the trademark here, but the riffs are catchier and there is some twin guitar melody, almost black metal in structure. Another screamer!
Resurrected
This is the slower track I was expecting for song number 2. Yet even this is heavier and more pounding, with some great lumbering chords on the verses. The atmospheric chorus with its mournful melody recalls past songs like "The Final Chapter" and "Paled Empty Sphere".
Unleash The Beast
Fast and catchy as hell, this one sounds like a regular heavy metal track boosted with death production on the guitars and Peter's raspy, shrieking vocals. A real anthem, this is short, compact and combines death metal heaviness with a hookiness I thought impossible for this kind of music. This one will be a live fave for sure.
Digital Prophecy
This is not a bad little song but it seems average compared to the rest of the material. The pace is fast and there's a lot of twin guitar work.
Fire In The Sky
Atmosphere is the key word here, showing that the band has not totally abandoned the style of "Hypocrisy". Mid-paced, with a lot of "true" metal influence, this has a very melodic mid-break with some strings backing up the guitars.
Total Eclipse
This is death metal! A real return to the style of "Penetralia" and "Osculum Obscenum". Blazing riffs hammer away in morbid fashion while Tagtgren's vocals are gurgling growling at its deadliest. This'll rip your head off and shove it back up your alimentary canal!
Unfold the Sorrow
This is another killer! Really melodic and catchy, this still has some mega-heavy riffs, especially on the chorus and behind the lead guitar solos. Although moderately fast, this conjures up a sad and tragic feeling. There is a lot of emotion here. 
Sodomized
This is not one for the kiddies, I fear. It's back to the past again! It opens with lead guitar arpeggios before cutting into the most godawful death belch I have ever heard. Chunky, morbid riffs dominate here. This cut is pure mayhem!
Death Row (No Regrets)
The album capper is a slow, doomy song full of the gothic, mournful feeling the band creates so well. The only thing I don't like about it is the corny "Sighing/Dying/Crying" backup chorus sung in normal tones. That should have been done away with. As with the title track to "The Final Chapter", this drones on a bit too long but it still has interest. 
 
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