Review Summary: Great riffs and brilliant vocals, it's just that we've heard it all before.
As one of the more lauded melodic death metal acts today, you can hardly blame Hypocrisy for sticking to a successful formula. After all, haven’t Amon Amarth basically been releasing the same album over and over again for fifteen years? Making a career of impersonating yourself can obviously pay dividends. In the case of Hypocrisy however, the perennial phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” begins to wear thin when you consider the band were at one point renowned for breaking the mould. While releases such as their self-titled built upon previous endeavours and expanded the band’s overall sound, it seems the band’s stylistic evolution has halted, with “End of Disclosure” continuing the trend set by releases that came over a decade before it.
Overt familiarity obviously has its setbacks, but it does at least guarantee another solid record from the Stockholm outfit. The guitar-work is a well-calculated affair of some catchy, some thrashy, and some slower, soaring riffs. A lot of them consist of an abundance of tremolo strumming, steadily shifting about scales as opposed to depending heavily on cyclical melodies. End of Disclosure isn’t devoid of melodic guitar leads though; songs like “44 Double Zero”, “Soldier of Fortune” and “When Death Calls” still retain a lot of the Gothenburg-esque harmonies that characterise the genre and thus the band. But while these moments are routinely the highlights of the album, they are frustratingly lacking in quantity. This isn’t to say the remaining riffs aren’t worth your time, although the majority of them aren’t particularly intricate, they’re cleverly sequenced in spite of the relatively typical song writing. Rarely will the riffs sound stale or underwhelming, as there is more than enough solid material here to fill the entire runtime.
Vocally, Peter Tagtgren is far from a spent force despite now being in his forties. His vocal performance wouldn’t sound out of place on a black metal record, instilling unease but also awe in the listener as he belts out an animalistic howl. His lows are respectably powerful and intelligible, but it’s his high-register vocals that continue to astound. They add a hair-raisingly harsh and cold aesthetic to the overall sound, often carrying the album during its weaker moments, instrumentally. While Peter does an excellent job behind the mic, one performance of his that isn’t awe-inspiring is the synths. While the electronics themselves aren’t actually an issue, coupled with the sound engineering, their presence proves to be slightly overbearing. While hypocrisy have been using synths for eons now, in the case of End of Disclosure, their inclusion is a little bit of nuisance. The already compressed guitar tone isn’t helped by the synthesisers, which largely fail in adding any of that signature Hypocrisy atmosphere, and instead just make the riffs that little bit harder to hear. Overall, the production isn’t poor, but it could have been much more effective with some slight tweaks to the mix and mastering.
Even though the homogenous nature of the writing results in some of the tracks sounding quite similar, there isn’t a poor track on here, and most are distinguishable within a single listen. “Here is Where I Stay” is a slower, chuggier number that breaks up the album quite nicely around half way through. It also paves the way for three stellar tracks towards the end, including “When Death Calls”, one of the most aggressive songs on the album. The first half isn’t without its charms either. The eponymous opening track makes surprisingly good use of the electronics by featuring one of the album’s few atmospheric moments in the form of the chorus. “The Eye” also blends thrash-like, oscillating chugs with some more traditional sounding melodeath harmonies. Sure, the song structures are relatively typical verse-chorus affairs, but there are enough surprises thrown in to keep the listener engaged throughout.
End of Disclosure is certainly not a revolutionary album; it’s just Hypocrisy doing what Hypocrisy has been doing for a while now. It features some excellent riffs coupled with hair raising vocals, but unfortunately, it still suffers from issues stemming primarily from a lack of inspiration. Sure, by sticking to what they know, the album was never going to be an unmitigated disaster, but when you have their back catalogue beckoning, it doesn’t really merit a listen either.