Recorded at Abyss Studio from November to December 2004. Produced and mixed by Peter Tägtgren. Engineered by Hypocrisy. Mastered in Cuttingroom by Björn Engelmann. Released on Nuclear Blast Records, 5 September 2005.
After last week’s lacklustre and terribly late review, I didn’t have much time left to listen to this week’s album. Which is a real shame as it’s a good ‘un. Apart from the artwork which I don’t really get. It has a crazy aliens-meets-insects-meets-venus-fly-trap vibe that to be honest kind of freaks me out; I’m not really one for horror films… or insects. So I turned the inlay card inside out and on we go…
I’m surprised that I’ve never heard of Hypocrisy before. Formed as a side project (originally called Seditious) of guitarist/vocalist Peter Tägtgren in the late 80s while he lived in the US, seemingly he was influenced heavily by the American death metal scene before returning to Sweden the following decade. Virus is the band’s tenth full-length release.
In many ways this album reminds me of Lamb of God: hard hitting, twisting-turning riffs, gruff vocals, with melodies woven throughout .I’m sure there are better analogies but that’s the one that comes to mind immediately.
The album opens with “XVI”: 16 seconds of ambience. It’s an almost obligatory way to open an extreme metal album these days, it would appear, as often I comment. But then we’re nose-first in the speed and noise. “War-path” followed by “Scrutinized” which features a fabulous, perhaps even fun, guitar solo from Gary Holt (Exodus/Slayer). “Fearless” slows the tempo a little and takes us in the direction of Solar Soul era Samael (2007). “Craving for another killing” takes the tempo back up. I do like the chugging riff that carries the song through—it’s simple but gets the heart going. Which is ironic for a song about death.
“Let the knife do the talking” brings the tempo down a little again with a slightly discordant and uncomfortable riff: think Slayer—”Seasons in the Abyss”. It’s a song that could have gone nowhere and become repetitive, but around two-thirds of the way through they mix things up a little, catch a new riff and take things a little faster. It’s moments like this that sets this album apart from many others: that ability to keep things interesting and unpredictable.
A few other notable tracks: “Blooddrenched” (track 9) has such a terrific throaty growl. It’s maybe the most brutal track on the album. “Living to die” is slow, melodic with spoken lyrics and actual singing.
This edition of the album (limited edition on Nuclear Blast) closes out with a bonus track “Watch out” which features a very bass-heavy, doomy riff. It’s so different to the rest of the album that it does make me suspect that it’s a cover but so far I’ve not been able to find any information about it.
But it doesn’t end there. This release also bundled a 12 track (54 minutes) live DVD, recorded on “08.04.2004”, which could have been April or August depending on your perspective. It’s a decent enough recording allowing you to experience the energy of the gig without the sweaty, ear-bleeding, mosh-pit swirling discomfort and all with a clearer view of the stage! The band, as you might expect, are dressed in black, leather trousers or cargo pants, feet up on monitors (Steve Harris style) long hair headbanging in sync, red, yellow and orange light show with bonus strobe.
All in all, a pretty good album. My only criticism really is the mastering. It’s really, really quiet compared with almost every other CD in my collection. Other than that… I’ll definitely be returning. Which makes me wonder: are Hypocrisy fans referred to as hypocrites?
Review score: 90%