Arriving four long years after “Virus”, and with relatively little press along the way, I went into “A Taste Of Extreme Divinity” with tempered expectations. Yes, “Virus” was a great album, but with mainman Peter Tagtgren seemingly more preoccupied with PAIN as well as his various production duties, it’s hard to shake the feeling that perhaps HYPOCRISY isn’t getting his full attention anymore, which can only spell bad news for the output of said band.
Well, as soon as “Valley Of The Damned” kicked in I found myself bitch-slapped from every which direction by Tagtgren and his cronies for doubting them. The decidedly old school quality of the cover art really should’ve warned me that HYPOCRISY 2K9 is not to be screwed with... Holy Batman, this shit is awesome! So much so that I’m tempted to declare this their very best album yet.. “A Taste Of Extreme Divinity” is the sound of HYPOCRISY amplified tenfold – everything is louder, faster (or slower), heavier, and yet more melodic than ever and from the first listen it is readily apparent that the band has fine-tuned all these disparate elements to near perfection on here. As has been the case since the mid-90’s the material here carry a strong sense of melody but that’s nothing to fret over since these guys have always had a darker and less ‘poppy’ sense of melody than many of their peers (here’s looking at you, SOILWORK), and on “A Taste...” they’ve even added an extra sense of forlorn melancholy to some of the melodies, which just end up making the whole affair come off as more epic than ever before.
The aforementioned “Valley Of The Damned” races out of the blocks with one of the most vibrant and downright killer riffs I’ve heard in a long time, and by the time that excellent melodic break kicked in at about 2:17 I was already completely sold. What a brilliant song! What’s even better is that this quality is kept intact pretty much throughout the whole damn album, with the band delivering the goods on all fronts, be it the chugging heaviness of “Hang Him High”, the anthem-like tour de force that is “Global Domination”, or the melodic genius of “Tamed-Filled With Fear” where punchy mid-paced riffs, effective clean vocals, and an absolutely stirring chorus all combine into one supreme melodic Death Metal song that is simply perfect from start to finish. In addition to this impressive melodic dynamic (which never serves to the detriment of the intensity but rather enhances it) Peter Tagtgren delivers one of his most varied vocal performances ever, with Horgh (IMMORTAL) and Mikael Hedlund forming a rock solid rhythm section that keeps things ticking along nicely. Of course it goes without saying that the production is equally flawless
I really cannot get over how fucking brilliant this album is. They don’t set a foot wrong here and the emotional quality that the melodies carry is quite something to behold, and should serve as the blueprint of how to pull off this kind of thing right. A thoroughly exhilarating listen from start to finish and undoubtedly one of the year’s best Death Metal albums! It’s good to have you back, guys!
(Online November 26, 2009)