Thursday 18 July 2013

Hypocrisy- Penetralia/Osculum Obscenum Re-issue (Album Reviews)

Album Type : Double Album
Date Released: 12/7/2013
Label : Nuclear Blast

Penetralia/Osculum Obscenum Re-issue, tracklisting:

CD 1 – Penetralia (remastered + live bonus)
1 Impotent God
2 Suffering Souls
3 Nightmare
4 Jesus Fall
5 God Is A Lie
6 Left To Rot
7 Burn By The Cross
8 To Escape Is To Die
9 Take The Throne
10 Penetralia
Bonus tracks:
11 Left To Rot (live)
12 God Is A Lie (live)

CD 2 – Osculum Obscenum (remastered + live bonus)
1 Pleasure of Molestation
2 Exclamation of a Necrofag
3 Osculum Obscenum
4 Necronomicon
5 Black Metal (Venom cover song)
6 Inferior Devoties
7 Infant Sacrifices
8 Attachment to the Ancestor
9 Althotas
Bonus tracks:
10 Pleasure Of Molestation (live)
11 Osculum Obscenum (live)
12 Necronomicon (live)

Hypocrisy founder Peter Tagtren had been in Florida prior to the formation of this seminal band. On his return to Sweden and indeed on the re-issued debut Penetralia he brought a US influence to his music. Penetralia is different to the rest of Hypocrisy's canon, for sure. It is much more Florida Death Metal in its sound and approach. Many of the passages echo Obituary or Deicide (in the slow paced sections with solos and ferocious blast sections of each band's work, respectively). In no way does this detract from the quality, however. A re-visit to Penetralia will reveal an excellent DM band playing in a more advanced way than many of their peers in 1992.

Naturally, listening to this over twenty years after its release, the ferocity of the record blends in with more modern releases, but back in '92 this must have sounded very, very extreme indeed. The riffs are stellar, the classic DM time feels are in full effect and the whole thing sounds very... professional. The production certainly holds up. Listened to through headphones, the mix is clear- you can pick out each instrument with the drums being particularly panoramic.

The band show dexterous skill throughout- bear in mind that there was no pro-tools available way back when. I very much doubt any click tracks were used or even tape cut to splice things together. I suspect that most of this was recorded as separate tracking but one continuous take for each song. A testament to real musicianship and good old fashioned rehearsing, then. There are more forward thinking moments to be had too- keyboards over more atmospheric sections, lead breaks and melodies as riffs.

The lyrics are standard death fare (blasphemy and so on) at this point in Hypocrisy's career- the extra terrestrial themes would come later. Overall, Penetralia makes for an engaging listen over twenty one years after its release. How many death metal debuts can that be said of outside the very biggest bands of the genre? (no need to start listing The Ten Commandments, Like an Everflowing Stream and so on!)

Osculum Obscenum was released in 1993- a mere year after the debut and it represents a definite evolution of Hypocrisy's sound. A dark keyboard intro is only the start. The band really finds their feet on this album as a DM act with a difference- there are BM influences here and there, samples, keyboards and so on. The blasts are faster, the production excellent and the band shifts through the gears very deftly indeed. The album represents not so much the old school as the modern DM sound of today- astonishing considering its twenty year vintage. The bass drums clack convincingly, the guitars (Hypocrisy were now a four piece) are very tight and the riffing brutal. Even the bass is well audible in the mix. Again, the professionalism will strike you on this album as it did on Penetralia. I cannot imagine that Hypocrisy were dealing with vast budgets for recording so the quality on display here is again evidence of serious rehearsing, time on the road and a desire to push the boundaries of the genre.  Pleasingly, the band still do this today- their latest effort (which I reviewed back in May) is absolutely superb. As a bonus the two albums are bookended by live tracks which work well as snap shots of a time and place.

If you want some top quality death metal from the genre's heyday but with a modern approach and good production then look no further. You get a two disc set with live bonuses for your money- for the musical historian it is a nice time capsule and very pleasing that the albums from the right era have been paired. Hypocrisy were, and still are, the real deal so why not start at the beginning and pick this up?

Words by : Richard Maw

As ever, show your support to the band by checking them out at the various links.  You can buy the double CD package as well as remastered vinyl here.  Thanks to Lottie and Holly at Nuclear Blast UK