Released: 2009, Nuclear Blast
Has it really been four years since Hypocrisy’s last album??? Time flies, doesn’t it. 2008’s remastered, re-mixed, re-recorded CATCH-22 completely slipped under my radar even though I’ve been a long-time Hypocrisy/Tagtgren fan, so, effectively, I haven’t really thought about the band for about four years now! Anyway, it’s time to remedy this sad neglect, and A TASTE OF EXTREME DIVINITY is just what the doctor ordered.
You may dismiss this as sheer hyperbole, but I really do think this is Hypocrisy’s best album so far, and this is coming from a guy who worships PENETRALIA, OSCULUM OBSCENUM and even THE ARRIVAL. In this album I think Hypocrisy have identified and tied together every element that has made them awesome, upped the ante, and taken themselves to a whole new level. The ‘death metal’ is more death, the ‘melodic’ is more melodic, everything is just…better.
Tagtgren’s distinctive voice has always been an integral part of Hypocrisy’s sound and it’s as if there’s even more of his screaming and growling on A TASTE… than it seems possible. The throaty screams and gargles mixed with roars and growls from his nether depths give the aggression and punch that so many melodic death metal bands lack – they complement the harsh riffing and beef up the ‘softer’ melodic guitar parts where needed. The first time I spun A TASTE… I couldn’t believe it was Tagtgren. I mean, I knew it was him, but I had to double-check on the interweb to be sure, just in case he’d abandoned vocal duties (to a wounded dragon) or left Hypocrisy or whatever while my back was turned.
I guess the best way to describe the music (ex parte vocals) is as the logical progression of post-CATCH-22 Hypocrisy married to the frantic uptempo qualities of earlier Hypocrisy all the way up to the self-titled. I really don’t think they actually put a foot wrong music-wise on this latest. The overall pace is slower, I grant you, but the unpredictability (hence, “frantic”) of the earlier albums are here. There’s a greater understanding by the songwriters of what they themselves are capable of, as musicians and as songwriters. The craft is fantastic. For example, on a song like ‘No Tomorrow’, a distinctly midtempo number, the guitars weave in and out of crushingly melodic sections into downbeat granite blocks of riffs. ‘Weed Out The Weak’, in contrast, is a full-up blast-a-thon with compellingly headbangable Gothenburg riffs of In Flames-esque catchiness. And the epicness! It’s as if they’d been taking night classes at the Amon Amarth School of Making-A-Simple-Riff-Sound-Epic.
If there were one criticism to make, it would be that the album is a little same-y, and also there are one too many fadeouts (I’ll leave my rant about fadeouts to another day). Other than that, the production is typically Tagtgren – huge round guitar sound with great definition in the leads, triggered and punchy drums, vocals up front and with the bass in its own audible niche – no complaints from me on that score. A final word: I think A TASTE OF EXTREME DIVINITY will provide a veritable wealth of live material for the band in the future. It’s just one of those albums that, upon hearing, you just KNOW is meant to be played live. You can tell that the band had fun recording it, and that they’ll have fun playing it on tour, and that the fans will have fun while headbanging to the songs. I envy you lucky fuckers who’ll be seeing them touring behind this album!