Released By: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: Out now!
Genre: Melodic death metal
Peter Tägtgren – Vocals, guitars, keyboards
Mikael Hedlund – Bass
Reidar “Horgh” Horghagen – Drums
1. End of Disclosure
2. Tales of Thy Spineless
3. The Eye
4. United We Fall
5. 44 Double Zero
6. Hell is Where I Stay
7. Soldier of Fortune
8. When Death Calls
9. The Return
Today I’ll spare you a neat little intro because the band I’m going to be talking about needs little introduction, mainly because of mainman Peter Tägtgren, involved in many other projects and owner of Abyss Studios, which has come to be a seal of quality when it comes to metal bands and their sound production.
Yet strangely, it always seemed to me that Hypocrisy doesn’t get nearly as much coverage as you’d expect it to, considering how long the band’s been around and how their first two albums are pretty much death metal classics. I always got the impression that they were more of an underground band with a cult following than one of the “big guns” of death metal. Perhaps that’s due to other bands eclipsing their spotlight or just because they never fit in with the “trend of the moment”? It’s certainly not because they’re not worth the time, considering the aforementioned classic albums and their generally solid discography.
At the same time, I can only be honest and say that I personally never cared much about their first two albums,Penetralia and Osculum Obscenum. I know of their legendary status in the death metal genre and I have listened to both but they do little to excite me. I can only but applaud the seething evil and darkness that seeps through the speakers from these albums yet the enjoyment is just not there for me. I don’t know how that came to be, but the band suddenly shifted in sound and in lyrical focus from the typical death metal subjects to lyrics and concepts inspired by alien abductions and conspiracy theories. The album I myself call the “transition album”, 1994’s The Fourth Dimension already points to the transformation to come. But it’s really the next album, 1996’s Abducted that would really get my attention and is the first Hypocrisy album I bought and still listen on a fairly regular basis. The album has “Roswell 47” which is by now a classic from the band and other Hypocrisy “hits” like “Killing Art”.
From there, the band would go on with another great album in The Final Chapter in 1997 to releasing their self-titled album in 1999, which is my personal favorite of theirs. Their next album, 2000’s Into the Abyss was good but not quite as unique and interesting to me. It’s from there that the band would become a bit hit-or-miss with me. Catch 22was a really terrible album laden with a nu-metal production and intonations and featuring such mediocre Hypocrisymaterial as “Don’t Judge Me” and “Destroyed”. A re-release of that album in 2008 didn’t help it one bit, in my opinion. You can’t polish a turd, as they say (although those who watch the Mythbusters will say otherwise). In 2004, The Arrival seemed to want to return to the style of the late 90s but was ultimately a pretty boring to me. There was however a sudden moment of greatness with 2005’s Virus. The album wasn’t as alien-inclined but the music was fast-paced yet melodic and well written, being the best material from them since the self-titled to me. Unfortunately, the celebration would be short lived because 4 years later, A Taste of Extreme Divinity was one of the worstHypocrisy albums after Catch 22. It was really un-melodic and the material felt uninspired and stale to me. Whether or not their new album End of Disclosure would be the final nail in the coffin for the band seemed a pretty likely outcome, at that point.
The album opens with the title track which was the first song revealed from the album and I have to say, I love it. It’s probably my favorite Hypocrisy opener since “Fractured Millennium”! It’s atmospheric and catchy as hell. Peter’s in great vocal shape, as well. The oddly titled “Tales of Thy Spineless” is a shift in pace and turns out to be a rather aggressive song but the discreet use of keyboard gives it a good atmosphere and it features a cool solo at the end. “The Eye” is another highlight for me, being another slower-paced and atmospheric, melodic song. It’s always been quite clear to me that this is the Hypocrisy sound I like best (and is probably why the self-titled is my favorite album). There’s a couple of spoken dialogue samples here and there on the album and I’m not quite sure where it’s from but I bet it’s some conspiracy theory stuff or something of that nature. I wish I understood it better, though. “United We Fall” is back to the more aggressive sound of the second song but has a great melodic bridge around the last minute. “44 Double Zero” is another atmospheric and mid-paced song with a stupidly catchy chorus of shouting the song title. Peter uses his unusual rabid snarl in the song, which is a cool thing, as well. “Hell is Where I Stay” is good, but not great. I like the fact that the band went for a less all-out speedy assault but this song doesn’t stand out as much as the other ones do to me. “Soldier of Fortune” is another great atmospheric and melodic song in the typical Hypocrisy fashion. It’s not really a highlight but a great song nonetheless. “When Death Calls” is another aggressive song which hits pretty hard. It’s not the best one here, definitely. “The Return” closes the album in a big way, being a great atmospheric, epic and melodic song making for a powerful finale.
I really don’t have much to gripe about on this album. The only nitpick I could have is the lack of clean vocals (outside of a little discreet chanting on “The Return”) as there were on the self-titled but that’s really more of a selfish desire and the fact that there aren’t any doesn’t make End of Disclosure any less of a great Hypocrisy album. Another criticism I can offer for myself is that I could do without more speedy/aggressive songs. One or two is alright and some of them are good but the band shouldn’t abuse them, as it’s quite clear to me that songs like “End of Disclosure”, “The Eye” and “The Return” is where I get the most enjoyment out of the band. But again, that’s a very personal thing of mine and doesn’t make the album any less great.
I’m not sure if the return to this more atmospheric sound is the result of Pain’s influence (Peter’s industrial metal project) but the atmosphere on End of Disclosure is great and really gives the album more depth than your average (melodic) death metal album. Then again, with Horgh in the band and his own experience (Immortal, Grimfist) added to Peter’s countless (and diverse!) projects he is/was involved with at some point (Pain, The Abyss, Lock-Up, Bloodbath), it’s quite clear that there’s no lack of musicianship involved with Hypocrisy and it would be surprising if they did sound like any other band. That said, I do hope the band keeps going in this direction, because this sort of melodic atmospheric death metal is what they do best to me, and it made End of Disclosure end up as a big surprise. It’s a very good Hypocrisy album, probably on the level with The Final Chapter and Virus as some of their best material.
Written by Chris Auclair