Continuing the return to brutality
After some variation from the norm with 2002's Catch 22, it seemed that Swedish death metallers Hypocrisy were getting things back on track with their previous effort, The Arrival released in 2004. Some eighteen months down the line and the quartet have returned with Virus - an album that continues the alien and extraterrestrial theme more so with the artwork this time than the lyrics themselves. Hypocrisy in its earliest form began in 1991 when Peter Tägtgren sent out demos to several record companies. They signed with Nuclear Blast and since then, they have enjoyed a long but busy career with the release of nine studio albums, several EPs, a best-of collection and a live album. Tagtgren is still partnered with long time bass player Mikael Hedlund is now joined by guitarist Andreas Holma and drummer Reidar Horghagen for their latest release that continues their return to form, Virus.
I don't get the big thing lately with pointless intro tracks, but chalk up another one in that category with Hypocrisy's latest effort. Sure it's short, but serves zero purpose. The first real track is the aptly titled Warpath which is a relentlessly brutal slab of death metal that sounds like these Swedes are truly on a war path. The thrashy Scrutinized sounds somewhat Dismember like (even the vocals are similar to Matti Karki at times) and features an almost Slayer sounding lead break and backing rhythm section (think Silent Scream, from South Of Heaven) towards the end of what is another solid track overall. Fearless highlights shades of Dark Tranquillity like melodic death metal throughout the mid paced number before the full throttle paced assault of Craving For Another Killing is as manic as the name suggests!
Sludgy riffage a-la Morbid Angel circa Domination drive Let The Knife Do The Talking and A Thousand Lies (no, it's not a cover of a Machine Head song) has some graceful melodies and lead work midway through. Incised Before I've Ceased, whilst having some strong chorus work, is a weaker example of the material on offer here as is the unoriginal Blooddrenched. Compulsive Psychosis is an improvement on the previous tracks whilst the cleanly sung closer, Living To Die, shows a different side to the guttural aggression that Hypocrisy are known for, which whilst not out of place, is definitely a change-up pitched at the listener.
It seems that Tagtgren and Co. have re-found their vision of melodic death metal that continues nicely on from The Arrival. Virus is by no means a ground breaking album but when you take it for what it is - a diverse slab of melodic death metal - it can do no wrong. Hypocrisy are back on track and fans of their more structured, or should I say less experimental material, should jump at this one.
(Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Distribution)