Monday, April 5, 2010


By: DEREK, vocalist for THE FACELESS

HOUR OF PENANCE, a brutal death metal band from Italy, first caught my attention with 2008’s The Vile Conception. The pulverizing combination of extreme speed and unrelenting aggression was great, but the lack of diversity in tracks left more to be desired and at times felt robotic. Now they have returned with Paradogma, released March 31 on Unique Leader Records.

This album is a BEAST, sickeningly fast in all aspects, churning out inhuman performances from every member of the band. If you like fast blast beats in your death metal, you can stop reading here and go pick this album up. The drummer, Mauro Murcurio, is a sadist behind the kit, cranking his appendages up to 11 on this one. The speed also harbors one of my chief complaints with the group though.

On The Vile Conception, I felt that I was listening to the same song over and over again. Every time it was an excellent song, but music this brutal and this fast can grow tiresome to even the most seasoned listener. I am stoked to say that HOUR OF PENANCE seem to have come to the same conclusion and slow it down at times on Paradogma. They’ve introduced slower parts into their songs that you can actually bob your head to without getting dizzy, and it really highlights the intensity of the rest of their onslaught as shown in the excellent track, The Woeful Eucharisty. The track, Malevolence of the Righteous, brings things down to a crushing mid tempo the entire way through to give you a breath of fresh air before pummeling you into another dimension for the rest of the album.

We’ve established that the drums are insane, and the same can be said for the guitars. These guys never let up, and keep it interesting throughout. They remain technical without becoming a noodling, self-indulgent wankfest but never abandon their original goal: to make you want to destroy any and everything around you.

Although with most music, especially metal, the guitar gives the standout performance, in HOUR OF PENANCE’s case, I have to say that that award goes to the vocalist, Francesco Paoli. This guy is, in my opinion, the best vocalist in death metal today. I have never heard anyone achieve such speed and clarity, and he does it with style. For those of you who aren’t so familiar with this style of music, if you thought BONE THUGS were fast, think again.

I haven’t had a chance to read the lyrics, but I doubt HOUR OF PENANCE is rewriting the book here. Based on the song titles, it seems to be an assault on Christianity, which is always a good, somehow still not played out, lyrical theme. Also brought to the table are some ethereal wailing cries that really add atmosphere to the overall sound of the songs as in the epic closer, Apotheosis.

I only have a couple, very minor gripes with the album. Borrowing heavily from NILE and BEHEMOTH, HOUR OF PENANCE definitely wears its influences on its sleeve. It even has that Middle Eastern feel at times that both of those other bands have pioneered and mastered. That isn’t to say that the style isn’t enjoyable, but when those parts hit, it’s hard not to dock them for it.

Another problem comes with the production. Everything sounds good—I’m probably even happier about the actual sounds on the album (the drums actually sound real this time!)—but the mix is disappointing. With a band whose best performances come from the drummer and vocalist, I find the snare drum and all of the vocals to be quite low in the mix compared to everything else (it’s all quite loud). Hiding the elements that set HOUR OF PENANCE apart and above the rest of the bands out there just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Paradogma is likely to be a big hit on the death metal scene in 2010. If you like scorchingly fast ferocity, look no further. Sure, the songs can be hard to discern from one another, but at least every song has the formula mastered. This is NILE or BEHEMOTH on crack. This is brutality at its finest. If this doesn’t make it onto my top 10 list this year, I don’t even want to know what’s in store for me.


Track Listing
01. Paradogma
02. Thousands Of Christs
03. The Woeful Eucharisty
04. Malevolence Of The Righteous
05. Caged Into Falsehood
06. Incestuous Dynasty Of Worms
07. Adversary Of Bigotry
08. Incontrovertible Doctrines
09. Spiritual Ravishment
10. Apotheosis

DEREK, vocalist for THE FACELESS


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