Who could have foreseen Italy becoming the next big Death Metal epicentre? Sure, the Italians have given us a whole bunch of Power, Goth and Black Metal bands that range from excellent to plain crap, but Death Metal has always been a genre not really associated with the country. Until now, that is. In 2010 HOUR OF PENANCE delivered a crushing slab of high-precision brutality in the form of “Paradogma”, the following year FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE (who shared members with HOP) dropped the spectacular “Agony”. Now, HOUR OF PENANCE strike back with what may be their best effort yet.
Trust me, you haven’t experienced aural intensity until you’ve heard HOUR OF PENANCE. This is the kind of band that operates on a seemingly different plane than just about every Death Metal band out there. Sure, the SUFFOCATION, ANGEL CORPSE and BEHEMOTH influences are all readily discernible, but at the end of the day their brand of ultra-extreme bunker-busting brutal Death Metal just comes off as heavier, faster, tighter, and more belligerent than anything currently out there.
They never let the searing intensity drown out some of the melodic nuances in their music though, and thus you have tracks like “Sedition Through Scorn” and “Blind Obedience”, two perfect examples of highly proficient tech-Death songwriting. The whirlwind of palm-muted riffs and otherworldly blasting kicks up a storm of gargantuan dimensions, yet the delicious grooves of the former and the epic doom-y sections of the latter are always on hand to add additional layers of depth to the sonic onslaught. Even if you take away the speed these riffs/melodies would not lose one iota of their power. Speaking of power, I officially declare the drum performance in “Decimate The Ancestry Of The Only God” to be the most violent and powerful you’re ever likely to hear. Seriously, drummer Simone Piras unleashes holy hell on his kit here. A work of beauty, I’d say. Add to this the catchy underlying rhythmic pulse in “The Cannibal Gods” and you have one supreme Death Metal album on your hands.
If you find yourself disillusioned with the recent efforts from MORBID ANGEL, DECAPITATED, and to a lesser extent, KRISIUN, then you should check out these Italians. Heck, even their albums covers rule – on “Paradogma” a lightning bolt and fire struck down a cathedral, and on here we see yet another cathedral being laid to waste, this time by a massive two-headed serpent striking down from the heavens, and yep – more lightning bolts!
As long as HOUR OF PENANCE is around, the competition will simply have to try harder.
(Online March 20, 2012)