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Hypocrisy The Arrival

By Brian Davis, Contributor
Saturday, February 7, 2004 @ 10:10 PM

(Nuclear Blast USA)

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If you were to take the haunting imagery in the art of H.R. Giger, the cosmic curiosity of Carl Sagan, the haunted recollections of self-proclaimed alien abductee Travis Walton, and the atmosphere of the eerie legend of Area 51, meld it all together and condense it onto a CD, you would be holding in your hands Hypocrisy’s latest unique offering of death metal mastery. If this album is to serve as any indication of the quality of music forthcoming through the rest of 2004, then we are indeed on hand to witness a triumphant return of metal to new days of glory.

Hypocrisy has always been one of those bands determined to evolve their style; never ones to be content with the stagnant lethargy of a redundant sound, we have witnessed their evolution from album to album. Beginning in the hard-hitting, brutal death metal days of Penetralia and continuing through the evolving musical landscapes of great albums such as Abducted, The Final Chapter, Hypocrisy and Into The Abyss, Hypocrisy has developed their own unique niche in the death metal scene. Combining a heavy as hell guitar and bass combo with more catchy, thumping riffs than you can count with a calculator, the moody and atmospheric doom pieces to prevent any sense of monotony, and one of the most impressive and individual vocal styles death metal has ever heard, Hypocrisy have created a style unto themselves that makes them easily distinguishable in the midst of the roiling mass of two-bit clones and non-distinct bands that pervade the world’s death metal industry.

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With their latest offering, the boys in Hypocrisy deliver what could very well be the best batch of ultra-heavy, groove-ridden, extra-terrestrial paranoia we have yet to hear from them. This is no slight accomplishment when you consider the profound impact albums such as Abducted and The Final Chapter have had on the metal community, and it is with that impact in mind that I reiterate-this could be their best material EVER.

As usual, the disc starts out with a great mid-tempo song -- “Born Dead, Buried Alive” -- complete with a creepy, ethereal keyboard intro and slowly building guitar line that breaks into a stomping riff that sets an extremely high energy tone that carries throughout the entire album. Next comes the instant fan-favorite “Eraser.” It was the only song from the album that Hypocrisy threw into their set on the last tour, but it was more than sufficient to create a major buzz concerning the direction of this album. I have no doubts that Hypocrazy fans will be more than pleased with the results.

If the first two songs leave you adrift in a sea of metal chaos and apprehension of all things paranormal, then the next two songs are what pull you under. “Stillborn” is a supremely heavy song, loaded with the signature grinding and churning riffs and multiple changes from one crunchy groove to another, including a beast of a riff about 2 ½ minutes into the song that would pull you out of a coma straight into a head banging fervor. This is where the album begins to achieve its velocity and the listener starts to fathom just how tight and solid this work is. Next comes “Slave To The Parasites,” another great moody song much akin to the opener on the disc. This song should conjure comparisons to Hypocrisy classics like “Roswell 47,” “Apocalypse” and “Request Denied”; however, just as you’re about to give in to the slow, steady, rolling tempo of this song another monstrous riff erupts out of a split second of silence to accelerate the pace of the song and give you an extra dose of adrenaline. This will most definitely be another instant fan-favorite.

And then comes the most impressive gem on the entire album -- “New World.” Ask any Hypocrazy fan what they think is the band’s most heavy and groovy song, and they will most likely respond with the likes of “Adjusting the Sun,” “Blinded,” “Slaughtered” and “Osculum Obscenum.” Well, chalk another one up to that elite list because this song is a fucking killer! This tune is prime Hypocrisy and represents the band in their tightest of form. With an overload of pace-quickening, bulldozing riffs, extremely tight drums and fills (particularly during the chorus), super heavy low end and an over the top delivery of creepy, high and low screams and growls, “New World” is guaranteed to have you hitting replay the instant the song grinds to an end. This song is an absolute must for any and all Hypocrisy live sets from this point forth -- you won’t likely find a song with more capability to get the crowd absolutely amped than “New World.”

As if the stellar quality of the sound and evolution of the band were not enough, a little surprise lays in store next in the form of the song, “The Abyss.” Originally only released on Nuclear Blast’s Death Is Just The Beginning, Vol. 3, Hypocrisy have swept the dust off this beauty and given it to the masses. Probably the slowest song on the album tempo-wise, you can definitely hear the sound they were currently immersed in when the song came out in ’95. Following that is “Dead Sky Dawning.” This is another great tune, although if I were forced to pick my least favorite song on the album, this would be it. That isn’t to say it’s not done well; it’s just a more straightforward approach (I hesitate to call it commercial, but it’s listener friendly), somewhat in the vein of the band’s last release Catch 22. Regardless of the slight differentiation in style on this one, it’s still a solid song that combines well enough with the rest of the songs to make this a phenomenal album.

Putting a twist on the album title, the next song “The Departure” continues with the heavy emphasis on alien abduction, which was a staple identifier of the band’s style for many years. Another slow, heavy and grinding song that changes the tempo of the album and gives the listener a change of pace, this tune sounds like it could have come straight out of the Abducted sessions. If you were asked to identify the song that closest resembles a “ballad,” the tempo and haunted vocals (“I’m staring through the eyes of eternity, I see what no man’s ever seen…”) would most likely make “The Departure” the closest candidate. Wrapping up this amazing album with a solid kick in the sternum in “War Within.” While just barely falling short of the power and intensity of “New World,” “War Within” is still overloaded with incredibly catchy and ultra-heavy riffs, more vicious vocals and what are probably the coolest set of lyrics on the album: “God, let me regain control; God, let me reign in my own soul; God, let my life return; God, I’d do anything to see you burn!” This is another complete shredder and stands alone as the single best album closer the band has ever recorded. By the time this last song ends, your veins are pulsing with adrenaline-laced blood and you’re rushing to the stereo to get this incredible metal machine rolling all over again.

Three specific factors lend themselves to making The Arrival such an amazing album. Most noticeable and probably the least surprising is the high quality production. As always, Peter Tatgren manned the controls and proves that his musical prowess extends far beyond the demands of a guitarist/vocalist. Everything is tight, crisp, clear, and mixed to a perfect pitch, and all instruments are distinguishable at any given time and are melded flawlessly. Secondly, there is a very evident improvement in Peter’s vocal range and the sheer intensity and power packed behind the delivery of each word. Still ever-present are the signature shrill screams, but there’s a new dimension and depth that serve to amplify the power and sound, making his already eerie vocal approach that much more creepy. And last but certainly not least is the stellar performance of now ex-drummer Lars Szoke. It pained me to learn of his departure from the band prior to this album’s release, especially after hearing the phenomenal job he does throwing down the drumbeats on this. More often than not, it’s the hard pounding, constantly changing drum rhythms that carry the songs to the pinnacle of each riff and time change. Without a doubt Lars’ best performance to date, it will leave the listener torn between the disappointment that he is no longer with the band and the elation at the idea that his amazing performance on The Arrival will serve as a more than acceptable swan song to his long running legacy with Hypocrisy.

There is no better way to launch into 2004 than with the unrelenting, jaw-dropping power of The Arrival. Not only does it come instantly out of the gates to establish itself as the album to beat this year, but it also raises the bar on musical standards, and all those who intend to contend with music of this caliber are going to have to increase their own game considerably. After scouring this album for errors or flaws, I can determine only one -- at only 9 songs, it isn’t fucking long enough! And if that’s the worst criticism the band can get on this album, then we should all be so lucky. The supporting tour for this album is a must for any true death fan, and I can think of no better way for Hypocrisy to abduct the support of the United States’ death metal fans than with The Arrival. And remember - if you happen to wake up one morning to find little green men with four-fingered hands and big black eyes probing you in a most uncomfortable manner, don’t say Hypocrisy didn’t warn you.

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