Review Summary: On the waves of the North Atlantic.
Hypocrite is one of a number of death metal bands that emerged from 1990s in Sweden whose career did not last nearly as long as it should have (see: Eructation). Despite putting out two full lengths, one can't help but think what may have been in store if they had been able to follow up the masterpiece of melodic death metal known as Into the Halls of the Blind
. This would be a perfect soundtrack to Ragnar Lothbrok charging into battle and decapitating the opposing commander. While the majority of fans of the melodic death metal craze in the late 90s descended upon Gothenburg, this sparkling Stockholm diamond was left covered and forgotten, a criminal overlooking if there ever was one.
Speaking of criminal, how f*cking good are the riffs on this album? Give one listen to a song such as "Dark Blue Velvet" or the sprawling title track and it will become apparent that this is no ordinary, In Flames rip-off, melodic death metal record. This is urgent, brash and tinged with a sense of songwriting seldom matched in any metal scene. The duo of Peter Nagy and Henrik Hedberg have a knack for writing epic and encompassing licks that conjure up images of Valhalla and other mythical Scandinavian legacies. Moreover, the stupidly catchy leads soar above and light searing blue flames like an acetylene torch. Hair-raising additions such as the folky hurdy-gurdy passages of "In Blood We End" and "Blood Blind" complement the atmosphere that permeates through the record and buries itself further into the cranium of whoever listens to it.
Johan Haller's vocals are a desperate, mid range howl that fits absolutely splendidly among the tone of the tracks and the competent percussion from Nagy allows the remainder of the music to lightly float on top as if being carried by an icy, November gale on the Great Lakes or gallop and trample like a calvary unit. As mentioned earlier, this would be a likely soundtrack to the Viking exploration across western territory, a rippling torrent across the Atlantic spurred on by a storm of immense proportions. The brief interludes ("Eye of the Serpent") exert a feeling of sorrow, such as a warrior being lost in battle and a funeral being performed or a blackened, gruesome plague overspreading a colony and slowly ransacking its victims, one by one.
Rare is it to hear an album that evokes such vivid imagery upon listening and embodies everything that a genre can and should be. It is a shame that melodic death metal tended to devolve into the legions of rip-off metalcore bands upon the turn of the millennium, instead of remaining true to form with records such as this, Intestine Baalism and Arghoslent notwithstanding. Into the Halls of the Blind
is grandiose without being overbearing, aggressive without being inaccessible to newcomers to the scene and is a hundred and ten percent quality throughout its economical length. Hypocrite, in their dormant state, deserve attention. It's about damn time they received it.