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HOUR OF PENANCE
HOUR OF PENANCE
Pageantry For Martyrs
(Xtreem Music)
43:45min

I am quite sure most of the Voices reader already know the great debut "Disturbance" of HOUR OF PENANCE released in 2003. If not... you should make up your mind as a self respecting Death Metal lunatic as those Italians returned with an even stronger follow-up entitled "Pageantry For Martyrs"! Despite the fact that some members changed since the recording of "Disturbance" there are no changes in the overall direction of HOUR OF PENANCE. The foundation of their sound still is a highly brutal and well crafted fusion of modern brutal North American Death Metal akin to NILE and HATE ETERNAL and an European approach to songwriting... perhaps it could also be described as a rather old school "feeling for songs" in the sense that brutality and technicality are important ingredients but not all that constututes HOUR OF PENANCE compositions. Apart from the high speed blasting present on "Pageantry For Martyrs" there are plenty of well thought breaks and alternating tempi incorporated resulting in very organic and driving flux of the music. Don't get me wrong here - the general speed is fast in here and the band didn't slow down a single bit compared to their debut but the breakdowns and midtempo past are absolutely crushing and dismal, often carried by a carpet of massive double bass drumming or a sub bass note exploding out of the speakers. Also in terms of production HOUR OF PENANCE don't have to hide themselves in comparison to the big names in Death Metal. The guitar sound is heavy and thick yet not muffled or taking away details of the riffing. I guess parts of the drums were triggered in the recording process (as it is common nowadays) but luckily the impression is not sterile in any way - rather the opposite. Alex, the new vocalist (originally from NECROTORTURE) delivers his vocals in a dark, low and classic way, backed up by drummer Mauro (who did the job on the debut). I am not sure about the lyrical content but titles like 'Celebrating Collective' or the title track may hint at actual world political issues or their "phenomenons". This time there are no Klaus Kinski samples on the record but perhaps the final track 'Egomanisch' is dedicated to him? In all honesty: I fail to find any weak point on this release and have to conclude that "Pageantry For Martyrs" is definitely one of THE highlights in 2005 and an absolutely necessary purchase by all means!! www.hourofpenance.net

Ulrich Kreienbrink

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