Hour of Penance - Regicide - (9/10)
Published on May 12, 2014
More rabid than a pride of starving lions in the Circus Maximus.
Combining the most vitriolic elements of Behemoth, Hate Eternal and Nile and ratcheting up the intensity to a point that everything seems to teeter on the brink of all-out delirium, Hour of Penance is an intimidating prospect whichever way you look at it and the band pulls it all off with such breathless ease that the fact the current line-up features only one surviving member from the Vile Conception era almost seems like an afterthought. In spite of the near ceaseless aggression of the music Regicide is not a one-trick pony, however. It may be subtle but on a pound for pound basis this album features a stronger melodic dynamic and exploration of varied tempos than their past two albums combined.
Regicide is structured in a such a way that every aspect of the band’s sound is highlighted, with the band seemingly intent on shattering every bone in the listener’s body with the blast-ridden one-two punch of “Reforging the Crowns” and “Desecrated Souls,” then segueing into more mid-paced and riffy territory during the middle part of the album before busting out a few deadly rhythmic grooves right at the tail-end of the album. No surprises here, but they pull it off with ease and militant authority. While they might be accused of playing things just a tad too safe on a track like “Reforging the Crowns” (pure Behemoth worship), they really push out the boat on tracks like “Resurgence of the Empire” and “Redeemer of Atrocity,” with the mid-paced rumble of the former perfectly complemented by the faintest of industrial sounds and the latter seeing the band transition from an almost white noise-like opening blastfest to jaw-dropping interplay between strings and skins that kicks up a groove capable of leveling small cities.
Elsewhere they explore some surprisingly ethereal lead work on the title track, which acts as stellar counterpoint to the darker melodies found on “Sealed into Ecstasy” and the aforementioned “Resurgence of the Empire,” and just when you think they couldn’t possibly do more to blow your mind they pull out some lovely syncopated beats on “The Seas of Light” (somewhere Tomas Haake is smiling). I have to reiterate, however, that these melodic and/or seemingly off-kilter moments are but small patterns woven into a larger musical tapestry in which heaviness is still at a premium. It all adds up to an album that, save for the undercooked “The Sun Worship,” is practically faultless. Paradogma and Sedition were amazing albums but as far as I’m concerned Regicide blows them clean out of the water and already ranks as one of my favorite death metal albums of the year.