Released: 2014, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Italian death metallers Hour of Penance are a curious, but compelling lot. The band’s current lineup includes no original members. The longest-standing member, lead guitarist Giulio Moschini, made his first appearance on the band’s second album, 2005’s Pageantry for Martyrs. And only one other member, guitarist/vocalist Paolo Pieri, returns from the band’s last album, 2012’s Sedition.
Yet Hour of Penance have remained remarkably consistent with their musical output, offering some of the most blisteringly fast, dizzyingly complex and brutally satisfying technical death metal around. The band’s new fifth album is no exception. With new drummer James Payne and bassist Marco Mastrobuono onboard, Hour of Penance pick up right where they left off with the nitro-fueled Sedition, but with a few twists this time around.
Though not quite as utterly unrelenting as Sedition - the title track might actually be considered “mid-tempo,” despite Payne's rat-a-tat double bass - Regicide is still a formidable, ferocious effort. Following the ominous march of the intro “Through The Triumphal Arch,” it's right into overdrive with “Reforging The Crown” as Payne's tornadic drumming leads the way for Moschini and Pieri's unbridled guitaring.
But perhaps taking a page from countrymen Fleshgod Apocalypse – who now feature ex-Hour of Penance vocalist Francesco Paoli on drums - the band also employ ample riffy passages and grand choruses throughout Regicide to add texture and depth. While there are none of Fleshgod's symphonic proclivities – save for some Gregorian chanting on “Sealed Into Ecstacy” and Latin lyrics on the “Reforging The Crown” - the sweeping guitar forays on “Desecrated Souls” or the thundering grooves on “The Seas of Light” and “Resurgence of the Empire” add an epic air to Regicide without sacrificing much, if any, of the band's sheer power.
And believe me, there's still plenty of that here. The opening salvos of “Redeemer of Atrocity” or “The Sun Worship” come at you like a runaway train. But it's good to see Hour of Penance working a bit outside of the box this time around – and being smart enough to not go overboard. By sacrificing a modicum of velocity for some extra heft and substance, the band have created quite a monster with Regicide.