Hour of Penance
posted on 4/2012 By:
Hour of Penance made substantial waves with their last two albums, and while I've never been overly impressed with what the Italians have conjured up in the past, I thought it would be worthwhile to experience their newest release in-depth to see if my impressions changed. Sedition is certainly an album that commands attention from the get-go; an incredibly dense and frenetic union of tech-death showmanship and the panicked pulse of modern grindcore, the nine songs here are all single-minded, unrelenting, and fast as hell.
An easy frame of reference for Hour of Penance's sound would be modern day Origin. The band shares a similar mindset to instrumentation, laying down a steady foundation of incredibly fast blast beats on which to build a constantly pulsing layer of murderous riffs and growling vocals. The speed of the material is mind-numbing, and there's little in the way of dynamic range in how the songs are composed -- blast beats are used almost exclusively, and the brief instances where different rhythms or tempos are employed feel more like necessary moments of respite than anything substantial. All in all, the tracks rely more on the ravaging nature of the sound itself over any real compositional twists and turns. It's worth pointing out that, for an album that relies on sonic force as much as Sedition does, the production is pretty disappointing in some ways. I'm mainly pointing fingers at the jackhammer drum tones -- the extremely rigid and icy bass drum and snare sounds have a tendency to bury the other instruments in an obnoxious manner.
Fortunately, Hour of Penance is capable of crafting some interesting and powerful riffs that are capable of fighting through the overly sterile percussion mix. Many of the riffs are somewhat generic, Behemoth-derived slams and Middle-Eastern-isms, but the intricate tremolo runs and jagged stop-start grooves are enjoyable when digested in the context of such unrelentingly fast music. While no formal guitar solos are used, the band will occasionally toss in a towering lead that does a good job of adding a dramatic flavor to the backing score, and the vocals were also an unexpected high-point for me. While the primary delivery is a standard mid-range growl, the frequent embellishments in the form of anguished backing shouts and multi-layered choruses helps push the vocals into the forefront of the music in a way that many of the band's peers don't manage (or attempt) to do.
The best moments of Sedition -- like the lurching palm-muted blast in "Enlightened Submission" and the undulating melody in "Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God" -- have an exciting apocalyptic feel that makes the music feel both desperate and anthemic. The riffing compositions aren't very complex, but can be quite invigorating thanks to the overwhelming nature of the combined instrumentation. Still, the band relies on speed so heavily that the album falters when things slow down. Where Origin was able to add in slower tempos and make them a refreshing change of pace, the crawl of center-cut "Ascension" is tedious and ineffective. Similarly, the attempts to spice up the faster segments with more minimalist guitar playing or odd time signatures don't do much to improve the songs.
In spite of the the teeth-chattering production job and occasional lack of flair in the songwriting, Sedition is a solid album in the light-speed tech style that anyone looking for a new way to blow the hair off their head will probably enjoy. It's the kind of album that works best when all pretensions are thrown to the wind and the band just concentrates on beating the shit out of you. Hour of Penance has been pursuing this sound for awhile now, and they are most likely fairly set in their ways, so I personally don't expect much progression in their output or my opinion of it -- I've never been blown away by their music in the past, and I'm still not today. But I can see myself reaching for Sedition in the future when I'm feeling the need for a straightforward beat-down that the more ornate tech-death bands can't deliver.
Register to post comments.
RelatedHour of Penance
3/30/2010 Hour of Penance
The Vile Conception
2/23/2008 Hour of Penance
Pageantry For Martyrs
1/6/2005 Hour of Penance