WASHINGTON, May 3, 2012 – Hours of Penance’s new CD “Sedition” is like that scene in “The Exorcist” where a possessed Linda Blair projectile vomits onto a priest. Blasphemous and brutal, it’s as in-your-face as death metal gets. More importantly, it marks Hour of Penance’s most calculated assault on the senses yet.
The Roman quartet first rose to prominence with 2003’s “Disturbance.” Aptly named, it set a standard of relentless extremity the band has boasted about ever since. Few musicians in any genre play as fast as Hour of Penance, and those that can often lack their unyielding stamina.
“Sedition” proves that righteous fury fuels the band’s fire. The latest target of their aural violence is the Vatican, and Hour of Penance unloads with an album so blistering it borders on the destructive effects of a nuclear blast. Breathers are nearly nonexistent, and the tempo teeters between breaking the sound barrier and obliterating warp speed. Clearly, this is a band whose blood boils over Inquisitions, Crusades and the more recent molestation scandals of the priesthood.
Anti-religious or not, “Sedition” is an album that grinds down even the staunchest resistance. “Transubstantiato” is its sole moment of tranquility, fusing ominous rumbles with somber Gregorian chant. When “Enlightened Submission” next takes center stage, it dispels any harmony with the subtlety of falling cluster-bombs. Fusing majestic guitar work and furious percussion, it destroys eardrums by making even its melodies feel like crushing blows.
“Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God” goes even further, taking “Sedition” to the next level with its pulverizing hyperactivity. A death metal whirlwind, it melds blinding speed with robotic precision. The end result is a sonic firestorm, and one that’s broken by brief harmonies that flicker about like lightning that heralds the next raging gale.
Meanwhile, “Fall of the Servants,” begins with a tidal wave of drums before whipping up a maelstrom of blastbeat percussion and guitar riffs as rough as coarse sand paper. It all leads into “Ascension,” a raucous standout among the album’s strongest songs. Starting with eerie strings straight out of horror cinema, it next unleashes stomping guitars and thunderous drums. Behind it all roar gang vocals, a choir of the damned that boosts the chorus from the level of great to grandiose.
“The Cannibal Gods” next injects brief, insidious melodies into the mix to provide some sinister sonic atmosphere. Epic and somber, this gives the otherwise frenzied death metal some genuine gravitas.
“Sedition through Scorn,” for its part, delivers the record’s catchiest but most caustic songwriting. Inhuman rhythms stampede wildly forward, only to drop off into earth-rattling refrains. If there’s any doubt it’s the CD’s most dominant tune, the stabbing guitar harmonies at song’s end seal the deal.
“Deprave to Redeem” comes in a close second, swinging for the fences with boundless aggression. If the contest is hammering grooves, it’s definitely a home run. As if mocking its predecessors, “Blind Obedience” batters with seismic bass smacks and unbridled fury on the skins. Devoid of subtlety, it ends a satisfying audio smackdown.
The exhausted silence that follows leaves listeners wondering if “Sedition” could sustain the same pace much longer. Given its ferocity, going still further seems impossible.
Hour of Penance have pushed music’s limits. And in the process, they’ve dropped one of 2012’s most devastating records on the planet. For death metal fans in dire need of breaking boundaries, “Sedition” is the answer to their prayers.
“Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God”
“Fall of the Servants”
“The Cannibal Gods”
“Sedition through Scorn”
“Deprave to Redeem”
Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
Read more of Mark’s work in Heavy Metal Hensch at the Washington Times Communities.
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