I’ve seen this amazing album artwork pop up in numerous places all over the internet, and every time I see it I tell myself to fucking GET IT! But obviously my unfortunate procrastination habits got the better of me and I didn’t bother to get it until a week ago, after TWO YEARS! I know that Italy has always had one of the most prominent and diverse music scenes in the world. Apparently I was wrong in thinking that it has since faded away. Along with tons of folk, rock, neoclassical, jazz, and (most recently) metal artists that have been continuing to blow me away, it’s obvious that I was more wrong than I originally thought. For those of you that aren’t aware of the metal artists that are popping out of Italy these days, you should turn your attention to artists like Dark Lunacy, Lacuna Coil, Fleshgod Apocalypse (my favorite), Deathrow, Depressio Aeterna, Fear of Eternity, Rhapsody of Fire, Sickening, Theatres Des Vampires, Throne of Molok, and Inallsenses. Just a list like that shows that there is definitely SOME kind of music scene going on there; and that’s just a small portion of the METAL scene, wait until you hear the modernized-European folk bands that are coming from there. But we’re here to talk about the Italian technical death band Hour of Penance.
I’m going to tell you that I didn’t find out who the vocalist on this album was until yesterday. And to tell you the truth, I’m not surprised at all. The reason why was because when I listened to this album for the second time, the first thing that came to mind was “there’s SOMETHING about this that reminds me of Fleshgod Apocalypse, but what is it??” Then after my fifth or sixth time listening to it, I figured out that it was the vocalist that sounded a lot like the vocalist from one of my favorite bands, Fleshgod Apocalypse. At that time, I didn’t know that Hour of Penance was from Italy, so I didn’t make that initial connection that a lot of you out there probably made. I then started to hear a lot of similarities in the music between the two bands, especially the explosive blast beat drumming and the ultra-deep guitar chords. So when I looked them up on Spirit of Metal to add them to my bands list, I decided to look at the members because it said their current vocalist had only been around since 2010. And I then saw that the vocalist on this album was none other than Francesco Paoli from Fleshgod. And guess who did the drums, Mauro Mercurio, the one who did the drums on Fleshgod’s 2009 debut, Oracles.
I honestly had no idea that there was a Fleshgod twin out there. But this band obviously isn’t an all-out IDENTICAL twin to Fleshgod, there are quite a few differences. But I don’t think that I should make this review a comparison between the two bands, I want to critique this record by itself, without mentioning Fleshgod Apocalypse every two sentences.
My applause to whoever produced this album because it sounds astonishing and only enhances the listening experience. The thing I love the most is how much fucking volume and BASS the drums have; it only makes the music sound monstrous and apocalyptic (in a good way). I haven’t heard a tech death album this powerful and angry in…I don’t know how the hell long…a long time! Here’s something I want to tell those of you that have really powerful subwoofers or have extremely powerful (bass-compatable) headphones: the drummer has one of those bars that creates a bassplosion when he hits it. The funny thing is that this is mostly seen in deathcore albums (where it is typically overused), but it sounds amazing and makes me smile whenever it’s hit in this album.
The band is extremely tight and none of the members seem to drift off for even a second. This is one of those few cases where the visualization of having all of the members’ parts being squeezed into the eye of a sewing needle is an accurate description of how tight and together the band is. I love how the guitars are NOT overpowering like they are in almost every other tech death album I’ve heard out there, but there is one problem. Where’s the bass? Of course I can tell that there’s a bass player because I can hear the BASS, but I can’t hear the NOTES that the bass GUITAR is playing. This gets kind of annoying mainly for bass players like me because…I don’t know…if you were a guitarist, wouldn’t it bother you if the vocals and drums overpowered everything else?
This album is unrelentingly brutal and will leave you shattered (if not in pieces) after you listen to it. Although this band has had a lot more attention than I initially assumed, this is still an extremely underappreciated album. I wouldn’t recommend this to people who aren’t quite able to handle REALLY brutal bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Nile, Hate Eternal, Whitechapel, and Brain Drill. I would give this flawless piece of plastic 19/20.