Review Summary: Proving to be a top-notch death metal act, Hour of Penance created an intense journey into the swamps of brutality with their 3rd release...
With the modern vortex of technicality and a generous display of inhuman time signatures, death metal has become a very exigent genre nowadays. Craving for deep growls, fret wizardry and superb blast beats is a very common subject linked to the genre. If we make an incursion into the wildest of death metal dimensions, we can behold brutal death metal bands, which have managed to create symphonies of chaos and madness that could make Charles Manson grin for hours. So, adding all the mentioned attributes, one should expect a brutal death album to contain a high dose of crushing sounds and Hour of Penance is no joke in the business.
Created in 1999, in Rome, Italy, these gentlemen have been rising from the underground death metal scene and are not very far away from becoming a premier act. 'The Vile Conception' is their third full-length album, having a length of 36:39 and containing 10 tracks. The art for this release was devised by Par Olofsson, who has created a collection of incredible pieces of art for some well known bands, such as Psycroptic and The Faceless. The lyrics, i have to say, take a big chunk of the cake, since they are very precise at transmitting an anti-religious ideology. With a single paragraph it becomes conspicuous:
"I defiled every single faith
Regarding his name
I will die by my own hands
Unbound by god's chains"
All the lyrics in the album have a strong tendency towards criticizing religion and how it affects our mind and life.
In the vocal department Francisco Paoli can be heard delivering frantic, ferocious and quick growls of a very acceptable quality. The backing vocals are done by Mauro Mercurio, who is the drummer as well. Bass is practically inexistent, which is a shame considering it could have given this opus an even more solid backbone. The guitars are well executed, with fat riffs and fast tremolos reigning most of the time. Another important point is that the guitars are slightly overwhelmed by the main actor of the album: the drums. One can't help but listening to the superb drumming skills Mauro Mercurio possesses, hitting the kit practically like there's no tomorrow. It is evident that the difficulty standard is set by the performance of Mauro, with hyper speed blasts and an excellent job on the double pedal.
All the songs have a similar structure: swift and heavily distorted fragments followed by slow solos and, in some cases, evil sequences in the end. There are some highlights in the album, and despite the songs have a very linear composition (same skeleton) there are some remarkable pieces. A good example is the opener 'Misconception'
, starting with a very memorable riff and exploding into a symphony of pure brutality, ending with a slow but clever solo. 'Hideously Conceived'
follows a very agitated path and shows off in the middle section probably the most technical guitar solo in the whole album. The track ‘From Pain To Suffering’
(with a Morbid-Angel like starting riff)is a true example of the instrument mastery mentioned above, having an amazing solo followed by a very chaotic part based on an extremely heavy guitar work and a solid performance on drums. This song is an example of one of the characteristics showed in the analysis, because it ends with an instrumental passage that sets the calm.
To conclude, this is an excellent album from a somehow underrated band. The Italian metal scene has been giving birth to some superb death metal bands, and Hour of Penance is one good example. With a very hopeful future, my augury is that they will soon get the respect they deserve.
-Absence Of Truth