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!
- Valley of the Damned: We start hard and fast. The drums sound
like pounding hammers, nearly drowning out Peter Peter Tägtgren
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.