Monday, April 22, 2013

Hypocrisy - End of Disclosure

When talking about extreme metal bands from Sweden, the legendary melodic death band Hypocrisy is almost always brought up at some point. Starting out as a straight-up death metal band, these guys have become both pioneers and role models for both the death metal and melodic death genres. Because their frontman has been focusing so much on his industrial metal side-project, Pain, we haven’t heard anything from Hypocrisy since 2009...until now. The words “New Hypocrisy!” resonated throughout the world when Nuclear Blast Records announced that Hypocrisy had entered the studio. Will the new Hypocrisy be any good? On a personal level, although I think A Taste of Extreme Divinity is one of Hypocrisy’s best albums, it’s sound is not the kind that should be recycled. They really put themselves in a situation where, if they wanted to stay on this amazing path they’ve been on since Catch 22, they HAD to change their sound. Well, the only way to find out is to listen to the sucker.

The change in Hypocrisy’s sound is instantly noticeable the second that the guitars come in. For those of you that aren’t too familiar with the band’s history, they started out as a straight-up death metal band, eventually going in a more melodic direction starting with the release of The Final Chapter in 1997. More than a whole decade later, Hypocrisy continues to play melodic death, but they’ve managed to keep some of their original sound, making them one of the heavier bands of their genre. Almost all of that disappears on the new record. Replacing the brutality with keyboards, symphonics, and excess guitar melodies, Hypocrisy successfully manage to progress their sound. Progression is almost always something that tends to upset a lot of fans (i.e. Annotations of an Autopsy, Opeth, In Flames, The Faceless, Katatonia, etc.). But for some reason, there are certain instances where pretty much everyone embraces a band’s progression. This has appeared to be the case with the new Hypocrisy record. Everyone seems to be loving it!

End of Disclosure has a few similarities with A Taste of Extreme Divinity. The first similarity is the guitar distortion. Well...maybe it’s not 100% similar because it has less treble than Extreme Divinity, which is an improvement because that was one of the things about A Taste of Extreme Divinity that bothered me the most. The second similarity is the style of drumming. If you can, listen to the first track from A Taste of Extreme Divinity and listen to the drum patterns (especially in the beginning). After that, listen to United We Fall from the new album and, about one minute into the song, you’ll hear a close replica of that same drum pattern. I don’t really know what to call this drum pattern, but I hear it a lot, especially in bands like Jungle Rot, Hatebreed, Dark Tranquility, and, to be honest, a hell of a fucking lot of bands stretching all the way back to the 1980s! Anyways, on top of that, Hypocrisy uses the same blast beats that were used in A Taste of Extreme Divinity, which are ultimately flawless.

Let’s take a moment and discuss what’s new about this record. The keyboards have definitely taken a much bigger role than ever before, which can easily lead to a disaster. Because of this addition, Hypocrisy have created a masterpiece that easily competes with their classics The Arrival and Virus. The symphonics, although much more profound, still reside WAY in the background the majority of the time. Hypocrisy has always been a band to make the guitars the loudest and boldest. This is still true in End of Disclosure, but with the more profound keyboards, the overall complexity of the music is far greater than before. It’s pretty hard not to fall in love with this sound if you’re at all a fan of melodic death and/or Hypocrisy. Aside from the parts that have orchestral elements, there are numerous sections that use a soft pad keyboard voice that, although low in volume, quadruples the beauty and atmosphere of the entire sound. This element has made almost all the difference. I’m thinking that their frontman’s extensive work on his industrial metal project has caused him to try implementing more keyboard work in Hypocrisy. If this is true, it was probably one of the best decisions he’s made since deciding to play melodic death metal.

Everything else about this album is flawless. The production work is a thousand times better than the previous releases, the vocals are much more balanced and powerful, the guitar work is indescribably mature and beautiful, the bassist does everything perfectly, and, as a bonus, the album cover is fucking amazing! This is definitely going to be on a lot of people’s “Best of 2013” list, just watch. This gets a 19/20 from me.