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. Afterall, 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 pushing the envelope. While releases such as their self-titled built upon previous endeavours and expanded the band’s sound overall, 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 very catchy, some borderline thrashy, and some slower, soaring riffs. A lot of them feature an abundance of tremolo strumming, steadily shifting about scales as opposed to depending heavily on melodies. End of Disclosure obviously isn’t devoid of melodic guitar leads altogether. Songs like the title track, “44 Double Zero”, “Soldier of Fortune” and “When Death Calls” still retain a lot of the Gothenburg harmonies that characterise the genre and thus the band. But while these moments are a fine example of quality melodeath, they are frustratingly lacking in quantity. Although the majority of the riffs are not exactly intricate or even melodious to an extent, they’re very cleverly sequenced in spite of the relatively typical song writing. Very 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 40s. 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 his highs are as good, if not better than ever. 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 synth and effects. While the synth lines themselves aren’t actually an issue, coupled with the sound engineering, the presence of electronics proves to be slightly overbearing. The guitar tone feels over compressed, suffocating some of the riffs and occasionally causing them to fizzle out into a wall of noise. While hypocrisy have been using electronics for donkey’s years 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 by any means, but it could have been much more effective with some slight tweaks to the mixing.
Overall the album does feel cohesive as well as inspired. Even though the similar nature of the writing results in some of the tracks sounding quite similar, there isn’t a poor track on here, and all are distinguishable within two or even 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 title track, which is also the opener, makes good use of the homogeneous production 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-occasional bridge or solo-verse-chorus affairs, but there are enough surprises thrown in to keep the listener on his/her toes.
End of Disclosure is certainly not a revolutionary album; it’s just Hypocrisy doing what Hypocrisy does best. It features some brilliant riffs coupled with hair raising vocals that unfortunately suffer from an over compressed sound and unnecessary electronics. Small qualms aside, it’s yet another solid outing from a band that have seldom written a bad record. Sure, by sticking to what they know, it was unlikely these guys were going to get this album wrong. So as a musical achievement, it’s basically a non-factor in Hypocrisy’s now quite expansive catalogue, but as an album on its own, it’s definitely worth a listen.
3.5 / 5
Soldier of Fortune
When Death Calls