A taste of extreme divinity is Hypocrisy's eleventh studio album. Hypocrisy is one of the most popular and influential Swedish melodic death metal bands. As such, many people in the metal community anticipated this album.

What makes checking out a new Hypocrisy album particularly interesting is the fact that you never know what it is going to be. After their first few "standard" black metal albums, in which Masse Broberg was their singer, Hypocrisy developed a unique sound around unique themes, in particular alien abduction. Some albums, like The Arrival and the self-titled album, are very melodic, almost Gothic, with a very bombastic sound that is quite unique to Hypocrisy. Others are more like standard death metal, like Into the Abyss. Even on one album, there is quite a bit of variation in style, with aggressive, fast, old-school death metal, doom-metalish ballads and bombastic almost Gothic metal being side by side, in a cleverly composed sequence. The universal characteristic of Hypocrisy albums is that they are in general considered very good. The only album that was criticized was Catch-22, and even that was at worst just good instead of superb.

The question is, what is it going to be like, and is it good? Well, let's listen to it and find out!

  1. Valley of the Damned: We start hard and fast. The drums sound like pounding hammers, nearly drowning out Peter Peter TÃĪgtgren singing. This song very delicately balances the line between a fast, heavy metal song, and the point where it becomes noise. The music meshes well with the theme, which is war. In the middle of the song, the tempo and riffs change dramatically, contrasting beautifully with the beginning. The guitar solo feels like a point of calm in wind-swept sea. At the end of the song, the chorus is repeated.
  2. Hang Him High: This song starts with subtle spoken phrases, a strong contrast with the previous song. Then, brutal guitars rend through the silence, and we start with the second song. The lyrics are on being executed by hanging, and the sound has a bit of a restrained feel to it; brutal, but it could have been even more brutal. The tempo is a lot slower than the previous song, making this contrast nicely. The chorus is sheer brilliance. Hang Him High! After a short instrumental interlude, there are more lyrics, and the chorus is sung for a second time. The changes in tempo and volume really drive the point home, although the solo feels a tad out of place - a little bit too drawn out? The song again ends with the chorus. It is perhaps worth pointing out this is the second song Hypocrisy has made on this theme; the first is Deathrow(No regrets) on the album Into The Abyss.
  3. Solar Empire: Catchy riffs open this song. Again, a mid-tempo song with a lot of emphasis on the lyrics. The chorus is deep and hard and repeated twice. The theme of the song is nuclear war, and a gate to aliens. Aliens, war, and the fear of science are common themes for Hypocrisy. This is one of the few Hypocrisy songs in which the lyrics are really easy to understand - the music underscores the singer and not the other way around. The whole composition is in fact more similar to a "normal", non-extreme metal song.
  4. Weed Out The Weak: The song starts with a scream that lasts a full 17 seconds. I don't think I've ever heard such a long scream. A fairly fast song, obviously on weeding out the weak. The chorus comes with some pretty neat guitar riffs. After the first chorus, a slow, almost ballad-like piece forms a pause in the song. The lyrics of this song are simply brilliant. After the second chorus, a slow, wonderful instrumental piece starts, that contrasts with the earlier, faster piece, while underlining the lyrics. After that, the song picks up speed again for one more chorus.
  5. No Tomorrow: This song starts with a long, instrumental intro. This is very common on other Hypocrisy albums, but on this one, it's a first. After about 1 minute, Peter starts singing, and the lyrics melt together with the drums and guitar. The theme is (probably) alien abduction, a very common theme for Hypocrisy. The song doesn't have many tempo changes or long solos; it's chiefly about the lyrics here.
  6. Global Domination: The intro is a pretty complex piece of music, with tempo changes. Peters singing again has the same brutal, but somehow contained quality of Hang Him High. The song is about an extraterrestrial virus. Not a pleasant prospect. The song is is slow and drawn out, contrasting with the earlier part of the album. Again, even though the sound is heavily distorted, the lyrics are quite clear. At the end of the song, there is even a spoken piece. The song ends gently
  7. Taste the extreme divinity: Powerful, slow start, with some virtuoso guitar playing on it. Then, the song changes suddenly to methodical drums. After that, Dimmu Borgir-like blast drums and a scream from Peter make the song start for real. Incredibly fast, eardrum-splitting and over the top, in a wonderful contrast with the previous songs. Even though the song is very fast, the temp changes make it easy to listen to and powerful rather than just a pile of noise. Then, at 2:20, the song slows down for a guitar solo, picking up speed after that. The song is on the feeling of extreme divinity coming from torturing a victim. Yes, that's pretty messed up. It isn't called death metal because it's about love and peace. The song ends abruptly, leaving the listener shocked and in awe.
  8. Alive: Much slower, much calmer, and a wonderful contrast to Taste the Extreme Divinity. Lots of emphasis on the lyrics. This song is actually on religion, which is not a very common theme in death metal. More specifically it is on the impact of religion on society. The riffs are clever and mix well with the lyrics.
  9. The Quest: Slow and sounding a bit like doom metal, this is a very good example of melodic death metal. The theme is social inequality. Because the song is so slow, the some what unusual lyrics are really clear. Even though it is slower and more melodic that the other songs on this album, it is still quite powerful, with especially Horgh's drums adding brutality..
  10. Tamed(Filled with fear): A bit faster again. The song is heavy on drums, which at time drown out the lyrics a bit. The chorus is accompanied by fast drumming. After the chorus, the song slows down again, to an instrumental piece. Then, a very simple, but catchy intrumental piece is combined with heavily distorted vocals, creating a very unusual combination. Then, the song picks up again with aggressive, fast drums. After that, the simple, catchy bit is repeated. The whole is very eclectic and strange, but certainly not unpleasant.
  11. Sky is falling down: After the previous slow song, the sudden, brutal and rather fast start of this song is quite a contrast. The riffs are quite different from the rest of the album, making the contrast even stronger. The lyrics are almost spat out rather than sung, making this one of the most brutal songs on the album, even though this song is not extremely fast. The long instrumental piece in the song is quite impressive, contrasting nicely with the rest of the song and acting as a pause of sorts. After this pause, the fast, brutal piece is repeated.
  12. Bonus track: The sinner:This song starts with some clever guitar work instead of brutal drums. The singing starts with a grunt rather than a scream, and after a 1:20 minute intro, the song starts for real. It's again mid-tempo, with a lot of powerful drumming. In the lyrics, the word sinner receives most of the emphasis. The instrumental piece is again pretty guitar-heavy. The theme of the song is war, and I'm not sure why the sinner is sent off to die in a war. Anyway, the song and the album fade out after some heavy screams end the song.

The first thing I'm going to say is that this is a very, very good album. Every song is nice and adds something to album; they are all different. There are some mega-fast and aggressive songs, in which Horgh really shows that he is bringing something new to the band. There in general seems to be more "emphasis" on the drums rather than on the guitar.

In terms of style, it is most like Virus and Into the Abyss, although it does make Into the Abyss pale in comparison. The bombastic, over the top sound of The Arrival is almost gone, which in my opinion is a bit of a pity; I wouldn't mind if that were in it as well. As such, the album is a bit more ordinary death metal, and a bit less melodic/Gothic/progressive. In my personal taste, this is a bit of a pity, but hey, that's just my opinion.

What is really nice about this album is that it is brutal yet easy to listen to. It's not one solid block of noise, like, for instance, The Root of All Evil. As such, the really brutal bits receive proper emphasis, without tiring the listener too much. It feels like the album is a lot more than the sum of its parts.

In conclusion, I think this album approaches perfection. It is by very far the best new metal CD I've heard in 2009. Is it Hypocrisy's best effort so far? Quite possibly, although the self-titled album and Virus are very good as well. Still, a must-have for a death metal lover. For the casual listener, be aware that this is extreme metal; bands like Metallica make lullabies compared to this stuff.

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