Friday, December 21, 2012

Hour of Penance - Sedition (2012)

There’s something to be said for unceasing brutality. Though naturally lacking in dynamic range, it can be incredibly cathartic, especially when the riffing is strong and the leads are memorable. Such is the general experience here on Sedition, the 5th such excursion from Italians Hour of Penance, a non-stop Christ-slaying, blast-beating, blood soaked half an hour that continues to refine the raw hatred the band have purveyed all along.  This will be instantly appealing to anyone with a proclivity towards a number of other occult death metal projects, such as Behemoth, Krisiun, Nile, Azarath, Chaos Inception, Vital Remains, etc. etc. etc. on into the sunset. If that seems to imply that this is not a very unique battering, that’s because it isn’t… but that doesn’t mean it can’t be satisfying, and thanks to both extreme instrumental skill and well-written songs, it most certainly qualifies as such.

True to the established book of occult death metal tropes, Hour of Penance really hate Christianity, and boy do they want you to know it. Practically every lyric here is about some form of conquest, bloodshed, godly regicide, and allusions to torture and rape. Objectifying of women as wombs to be forcefully conquered aside (if you’re not already numb to this mongoloid aspect of death metal), the lyrics are generally well-written, and serve as an effective figure riding high on the wave of savage riffing. While the tonality and tempo remain much the same throughout, thus innately blending a lot of the less vibrant riffing patterns, they’re universally effective as a means of conveying the Eastern-tinged leads, which are both fun and delectable. Some of these progressions really stick to the ribs, while others simply blast by with the force of a stampeding unit of legionnaires, but you can be rest assured that Sedition never even comes close to boring. It’s one of those records that works in a very narrow field of appeal, but does what it does so well that anyone that could conceivably enjoy it based on predisposition to music of this nature most certainly will. The aesthetic here is just so dark, celeritous, and downright hateful that a good portion of the death metal populace will definitely want to take note.

Despite the direct, clubbing repetition that is this album in a nutshell, or more perhaps more accurately because of it, the entirety of the product is pretty damn satisfying. It’s short, stormy and brutal, contains fuck-tons of ancient-sounding, seismically pissed off riffs, and is monstrously well executed. It’s a consistent pleasure to bask in the raw talent here, especially of drummer Simone Piras (who has since departed the band), more a cyclone than a man, lending violent intricacy to an already tactful armada of riffs. Despite the inherent similarities of many of these selections of notation, flowing like a tsunami of blackened ooze over Jerusalem, they’re without fail well-constructed, and it’s important to note that there are also about a thousand of them. Giulio Moschini has also written a sizeable array of ungodly reptilian leads that snake out and overlay these celeritous storms, and these help define each track, as well as imbue a large amount of excitement to an already punishing production. Vocals are the expected pulverizing growl, for all intents and purposes acting as another percussive instrument, and the production keeps a firm balance, save for only vaguely intelligible bass lines.

Essentially, Sedition of a safe bet for most any propagator of brutal, fiery death metal. True, it harnesses a very limited range of influences, and doesn’t do anything particularly unique, but its selection of riffing is so dark, sweet, and downright explosive, it might as well have been forged in a chocolate volcano. This brand of Eastern-infused, conquering death metal is pretty popular these days, and there are a number of sources from whom to get your fix, but Hour of Penance do it about as well as anyone. If a single parallel were to be drawn, it would be to Behemoth, as Sedition truly feels very close to the more intense conjurations from its Polish peers (if less compositionally dynamic), so take that as you will. Personally, I think if one is going to channel modern influences, they should take them from the best of the best, so I’m alright with this outcome.

Truly, Hour of Penance have gone from strength to strength, and anyone who has enjoyed them in the past, or just likes the newer breed of brutal death metal in general (this is a pretty far cry from throwback cavern-core or old-school Swedish) will find this a dense, satisfying record. It’s great to see this type of riffing, fundamentally rooted in the precepts forged by Morbid Angel, and tempered in the steel of strong modern brutality, being so widely utilized, and so well, at that. As this trend (and I mean that word in a good way, for once) continues, we should be seeing even more punishing, diabolical releases such as this, and in a metal world clogged to the tits with 90’s-fondling throwback material and the generic bro-slammings of deathcore (which is almost unanimously undeserving of the moniker ‘death’), that’s an increasingly pleasing scenario. That said, I wouldn’t mind some innovation, but in this world, I’ll take what I can get. So long as that’s not a required selling point for you, though, Sedition is satisfying in both proof of concept and legitimate application, and is a worthy addition to any ravenous death maven’s collection.

8 / 10 - It's Raining Locusts