Into The Abyss

Nuclear Blast

Try as I may, I just can’t reconcile my feelings on Hypocrisy’s seventh and latest album, Into The Abyss. In one respect, Hypocrisy daringly return to a back-to-basics approach akin to 1994’s The Fourth Dimension, a throttling, hook-laden death-metal assault that, even now, still stands as one of the finest exemplars of the Swedish idiom. This time around, however, the trio update that palette by picking up the pace considerably, using blast-beats in far-greater abundance, not to mention guitarist/vocalist/producer extraordinaire Peter Tägtgren’s increasingly shriller screech and (now) totally treble-driven guitar tone both falling closer to many of the modern black-metal bands (Dark Funeral, Dimmu Borgir, among others) he’s produced in his busy Abyss Studios.

But in another, more accurate respect, conspicuously missing in action on Into The Abyss is the textural diversity that has made Hypocrisy’s last three studio albums such continually rewarding listens, particularly last year’s eponymous album, which thoroughly showcased Tägtgren’s newfound knack for writing wind-swept, doom-addled head-nodders. Granted, there’s a few head-nodders here (and fine ones, too: “Deathrow (No Regrets)” and “Resurrected”) and the near-anthemic, near-rock n’ roll “Unleash the Beast” is one of the most raucous tracks Hypocrisy’s yet to record, but there’s just too much uniformity here, too much consistency, too much acknowledgement that many die-hard fans found Hypocrisy a major wimp-out. (I mean, a song titled “Sodomized”?! What are they trying to prove, and to whom!? These definitely aren’t the Masse Broberg/”Exclamation of a Necrofag” days anymore, guys.) Nonetheless, Into the Abyss pummels nearly every other newcoming death-metal band’s best work, but let’s hope Peter and crew don’t call it a day on this one.

Nuclear Blast America, P.O. Box 43618, Philadelphia, PA 19106; http://www.nuclearblast-usa.com

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