May 26, 2014

TECH DEATH WEEK PART VII: Hour of Penance - Regicide (2014)

Looks like Tech Death Week has taken a sudden break just before its end - whoops! Relax, nothing bad has happened. I just got caught in a vortex of job interviews, friendly drinks, gawking at paintings, sailing the seven seas (or at least wishing I was) and more friendly drinks. All of this has barely left me any time to listen to music, let alone batter my ear drums with devastating tech death. But I think it's fair to wrap the series up nicely, so here I am, back with the final installment of Tech Death Week

For my final trick, I've lent my ears to one of the most highly anticipated tech death albums of the year, Regicide by Italian juggernauts Hour of Penance. They are a consistent act, having churned out a constant stream of albums since they started out in 2000, taking steady but small steps towards refining their sound over the years. With Regicide, the band offers 11 songs of world-shattering, devastating tech death that leaves very little to be desired. The album is an onslaught of tight, bulldozing riffs, piling one on top of the other like an endless stream of artillery strikes, and precise, destructive drumming that's both brutal and varied, while going hard on those blast beats. The guitars sound, simply put, MASSIVE: he chugging, meaty guitar tone is the perfect vehicle for conveying the band's apocalyptic, anti-religion message and its mere sound is enough to cause towering boners and furious headbanging. Vocally, things are good. Vocalist/guitarist Paolo Pieri doesn't have a huge range, but his delivery is spot-on, with just the right amount of reverb to make his growls sound powerful and dominating. The occasional choirs lend Regicide, at times, a monumental atmosphere that will make you feel tiny and intimidated. There is not a lot of variation across the songs and there are basically no breaks from the PLAY FUCKING FAST school of thought, even with the subtle changes in pace, so the album becomes kinda tiresome after a while and it seems to lack a lasting appeal, in spite of some truly excellent songs, like Spears of Sacred Doom, Reforging the Crowns and Sealed Into Ecstasy (which starts off with some skin-crawling recordings of a men's choir).

Hour of Penance keep true to their reputation of a solid, talented and dependable technical death metal band, but I really feel it's time for them to start pushing the envelope and explore some different paths on their next efforts. Regicide is a great addition to their discography, displaying tight musicianship and a stellar production. However, it is also a very "safe" album, relying on a tried-and-true recipe that doesn't leave much room for innovation and pushing the genre forward. 


- solid tech death album
- dat guitar tone
- sounds fucking massive


- too safe and predictable

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